Monday, March 19, 2018

Joseph Teacher of Jesus

On this St. Joseph’s Feast Day, we share with you this reflection on how Joseph may have influenced Jesus’ teaching example in Matthew 11:30. It is an imaginative prayer by Loretta Pehanich from the Ignatian Spirituality web site.

Joseph's Yokes 

Jesus and I played together as boys in the streets of Nazareth. I liked to run to the carpenter’s shop to watch his dad skillfully construct all kinds of things out of wood. 

Joseph mastered the yoke so necessary to guide oxen in the fields. They fit each animal perfectly. Joseph would custom-design a yoke for a farmer’s specific animals. Joseph measured height and shoulder width so that the yokes allowed oxen to work comfortably together. Under a well-constructed yoke, they could work easily as a team. People from all over came to Joseph for the best yokes.

That was the skill that Jesus and I watched between games and scuffles long ago.
I now live in Capernaum.  Everything seems to be going wrong for me lately. Why? The law feels like a burden. How can I pray when all I see are troubles? We are barely making it; our savings are gone.

I went to the village to find some solutions, and there was my childhood friend, preaching. I paused and melted into the crowd, listening as he praised God his Father. He talked about how God hid things from the learned and wise but revealed them to childlike souls.

Jesus made eye contact with me, the corners of his mouth turning up just slightly, and I felt as if our childhood days suddenly came to mind, inspiring him.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,” he said, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.”

I could almost smell the sawdust and hear the sandpaper swooshing across the wood as his father silently coaxed it into shape. I suddenly remembered Jesus’ mother coming out to us in the carpentry shop, bringing a pitcher of water and offering each of us a drink. Joseph would pause, wiping the sweat from his face with his sleeve, and lovingly peck Mary on the cheek before downing the water in one gulp.

There was an intangible something special about this family. Still it was hard for me to accept the rumors circulating that Jesus was the Messiah.

His words riveted me to the spot. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Jesus said, looking at me again. It was as if he could see my inner struggles, my overwhelmed life. My hunched shoulders suddenly lifted.

Of course, Jesus learned how to make a yoke from his father. Now he was preaching about a light yoke. Could my old playmate really carry off my concerns? Could he really be God’s anointed one?

Hearing Jesus gave me courage. My mind remembered inspiring words from the Torah. Yes, God can get me through these difficulties. I felt renewed hope.

I went to the village looking for temporary solutions to temporal problems. I came home with a longer-term solution: reliance on the providence of God.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Whose Face in the Heart of the Moon?

Winter Moon: A Call to See Who is Looking 

" I see the moon and the moon sees me.
  The moon sees somebody I want to see.
  God bless the moon and God bless me
  And God bless the somebody I want to see."

I learned this song at Camp Witawentin when I was a young girl. It has echoed in my heart for well over half a century. A prayer of the heart always.

Recently the moon saw me on the way home and held me captive by her beauty and power. My first impulse was to find someone to share the moment, as I stood gazing at the unique setting of this lunar rising. A prayer for consciousness of the now moment.

The faithful moon calls us to look into our hearts and ponder who else in this world is looking up at the moon with us. Sometimes I see migrant families guided in the dark by her soft light. I breathe a prayer of comfort and safety.
I see refugees huddled in a boat on the dark water and connect my heart with their hope that life can be better. I pray that there will be someone to receive them somewhere.

For some, I suspect, that the moon holds them as a raft collapses. I imagine her presence accompanying them on their sacred passage through to the other side of their lives. I bow my head in reverence and tears.

O tender moon of beauty and power,
You who seem to appear and disappear from our sight,
You are an image of God for us.
We are always in your view.
Allow us to sense particular faces.
Call us to a new way of praying.
God bless you moon.
And bless those you want us to see.

Monday, December 19, 2016

God's Christmas Dream

The Divine Word became Flesh of our flesh and Bone of our bone.

The stars sang when you were born.            All creation leaned in close to listen                       to the song that is you.

God’s dream has always included you…. This is nothing new… All life is a dance… inviting you to take a chance … So come, walk with me … and let us discover the ONE that is WE.
Mary, Elizabeth and Joseph, were invited into thresholds, where they would meet the One who called them into life… and then cross over with God, into the world we would come to know. They leaned into an encounter with God … which opened them to encounters with the mystery of one another.
When Jesus was born, God became Flesh of our flesh and Bone of our bone. God in Jesus, walked among us, encountering each person, calling each to know and sing and dance their songs into community.
When Jesus died, WE , in our common humanity, were called to our own thresholds, where we would become God’s Flesh and God’s Bones.

Lean into your Life … the one God has put in motion … Lean into God… Lean into one another…
Leaving the known behind, we cross the threshold to the surprise and expectation of mystery…trusting the strength and agility of one another.

Who do I lean into and recognize the Face of God?  Who accompanies me so I can sing my song?
Where am I the Body of Christ on Earth….the hands … the feet… the eyes?

Bless you body this Christmas and thank Jesus for the gift of Incarnation.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Season of Waiting

O Come All Ye Faithful

ADVENT ---   We wait.  We wait.

        ADVENT ---  We search.   We search.

                ADVENT --- O come.  O come.

                       ADVENT --- Lead us to you, God. Show us your face.

We have heard O God, that you dwell among us. Sometimes you are silent. Often you are hidden.
Advent moments arrive as invitations for us to come and find you now.
We look for You and we find you looking for us.
Often You are looking at us, right through us, moving us to compassion and love.

This young child of Haiti, survived Hurricane Matthew. In late October Sister Eunice, Holly and Nancy travelled to the mountain villages of Haiti to see how the families they work with were doing.
They brought seeds to replant the crops that were washed away and medicine for those they could reach. As they searched and found those who were waiting, they saw the Face of God.

May each of us find in the neighborhoods around us this Advent, at least one Face of God. May we allow that Face to penetrate our heart. May we come to know anew the mystery of Incarnation.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Beyond the Closing Door

St. Francis Church  North Adams, MA     September 2016
Please be present with me as I reflect upon the meaning of this sacred door of Saint Francis Church in North Adams.

This is a significant doorway of entrance into the mystery of God.
Through this door I was carried to received the sacrament of  Baptism. Through this door I processed with many schoolmates, as Sisters of St. Joseph prepared us for Penance, First Communion and Confirmation. This is the place where many became graduates of St. Joseph's Grammar and High Schools.

Daily Mass, October and May devotions, Novenas, Holy Hours, Stations of the Cross, and choir rehearsals, in this sacred space, nurtured the faith life of so many. Weddings, funerals, special services to pray for peace and offer solace united us as a community of faith.  I recall especially gathering to pray for the victims of the plane crash over Lockerbie, Scotland where our Wendy Lincoln was among the students from Syracuse University on board.

The steeple, that for years was part of an amazing skyline among the hills of North Adams, and whose bells rang out the angelus as a call to prayer, now lies in rubble among the bricks to the side.

A lamp post stands as a sentry, honoring the memory of each individual who ever passed by this holy place, some crossing their foreheads, others tipping their hats.

Flowering plants and greenery remind us that life continues to go on.

The open blue sky frames the memory and an era that is passing.  It speaks to me of Life Beyond the Door. The faith in our living God is part of us forever. We carry it wherever we go. Our faith was never meant to be tied to a building. We are asked to arise and move on to a beautiful new horizon.

I am prompted to pray with the words of Dag Hammarskjold:
 "For all that has been - Thanks. For all that shall be - Yes.
I thank my friend, Elaine Mattern of North Adams, for posting this photo on her Face Book page with the caption, "No, this is not the Alamo.". 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Final Day of UISG

 Sisters from India prepare for the beautiful liturgical dance at the doxology of the Mass. 

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz (Brazil), prefect of CICLSAL, speaks with some sisters prior to the concluding liturgy. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Papal Audience

Sister Maxyne Schneider is in Rome attending a conference of the International Union of Superiors General--a worldwide, canonically approved organization of Superiors General of Institutes of Catholic Women Religious.

At the start of the hour and a half audience UISG President, Carmen Sammut, MSOLA brought the greetings of the group to the Pope.

Questions from the membership were given to Pope Francis in advance and also were read aloud by a Sister. The first four questions,  all had to do with the role of women in the church - decision making, preaching, participation at all levels. Questions had been solicited from across the world by the UISG to be given to the Pope. Receiving questions was his request. From among the submitted questions those that were similar were combined and sent to the Pope by Easter.

Pope Francis seemed utterly at ease, committing himself to the inclusion of women in the dicasteries, for example, but not going beyond current official boundaries in other cases. He made frequent references to pastoral circumstances from his years in Argentina and made a few very lighthearted and humorous remarks.

There is much more to be said. I have been told that theZenit website might have full accounts of the audience.