Monday, February 17, 2020

Feb. 23, 2020: The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Ash Wednesday, Preparing for Lent

Reading I: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Psalm: 103
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48

Sunday Gospel
One of the stories I remember from my religion classes when I was a child is the following: There was a little boy who had just made his First Communion and was saying the evening rosary with his family. He responded to every 'Hail Mary' loud and clear. However, when the 'Our Father' was prayed, he remained silent. After the rosary was finished, his mother asked him why he didn't respond to the 'Our Father.' Sheepishly, he answered, "I am mad at my brother because of something he did, and I don't want to forgive him, but I still want God to forgive me when I do something bad."  He was referring to the words in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us."

The little boy had understood the message that Jesus gave in today's Gospel from Matthew: "You have heard it said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your heavenly perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
No matter what age one is, forgiveness is one of the greatest challenges we experience as Christians.  It is easy to be good to those who love us, but to be good to our enemies requires God's grace and sometimes help to deal with the circumstances and emotions involved.

A requirement for one of my pastoral ministry courses was to observe a group process session at a mental hospital. The patients and students sat silently in a circle with a facilitator. The mother of one of the patients was there also. The young woman began by thanking her mother for coming to the therapy session for her. Then she expressed to her mother that she was hurt because she believed that the mother had always loved and favored her brother rather than her.

The mother's eyes filled up as she explained that the father had never accepted the son and that she had tried to make up to the son for the father's rejection. The mother assured her daughter that she was very much loved also. At the end of the session they were crying in each other's arms. The lesson for all of us was to realize that we seldom know the motives of those who hurt us. It makes a big difference when we understand them.

Many Saints have followed the example of Jesus by praying for and forgiving those who tortured and martyred them. It is only by God's Grace that we can love our enemies as He does.

Ash Wednesday

Lent is a very special time during which we prepare to be baptized or to renew our baptismal promises at Easter. It begins this Wednesday with the marking of our foreheads with ashes. This sign of repentance has its origins in the Hebrew Traditions.

The word "lent" is a shortened form of an old English word "Lenten," which means springtime. Spring reminds us of growth and new life. Flowers bloom and trees, which appeared to be dead, put forth buds and leaves.

During Lent, we attempt to die to our selfishness and sinfulness and grow in our relationship with the Lord and generosity toward others. We hope to be morally stronger people when we pledge to renounce Satan and all evil at the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday.

It used to be that the emphasis was put on giving something up for Lent, usually some favorite food, etc. While that still is an option, today we are encouraged to do something positive. Is there someone from whom you are estranged? Make an effort to reconcile. If it doesn't work out, at least God knows that you tried.  Is there someone who is lonely, make contact as best you can. Is there someone hungry? Provide food in some way. Jesus said, "Whatever you did for the least of my brethren you did for me."

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Traditionally, people make “New Year’s Resolutions” in January to improve their lifestyle in some way. Ash Wednesday is a chance to “re-boot” resolutions to improve our spiritual lifestyle. St. Katharine reassures us that God does not ask for a “finished work;” He does ask for our “continued effort and is pleased with our desire to please Him.” How can we please God? Think of the Beatitudes. How can you be a Peacemaker in your family or in your community? Small steps can be a good start.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
This week’s reading from the Book of Leviticus speaks to my heart. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy…You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart…Take no revenge and cherish no grudge…You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.’ “
One of the featured articles in this week’s edition of my local community paper read, “Father of slain football player pleads for peace.” The man’s 19 year old son was a passenger in a car when a stray bullet went through the window of the car and hit him in the head. At least a dozen bullets were fired and the boy who was killed was not the intended target. The young man played football for his high school, had many friends and would have graduated this June. The father addressed the 1400 students and pleaded for the violence to stop. The young man’s mother reported that she was just too angry in the moment to talk, though after her husband’s appeal to the student body, she did comment, “My son is not here anymore and these things have to stop.” As a mother of two sons, I know that the depth of her pain is unmeasurable. Sadly, this is a regular occurrence on the streets of our cities. The boy’s football coach stated that he is not sure what the answer is, but feels that the answer has to start in the schools.  I believe the answer is in Leviticus – our communities need to return to holiness. God needs to be returned to the schools, made more visible in our communities and be reestablished in our hearts. 
You referenced the challenge of forgiveness in your post. My heart aches for the parents who lose a child through violence, and I would probably struggle with forgiving such a senseless act. Ultimately I know that forgiveness is the only life affirming, God honoring response, but I would only be able to arrive at that decision through the grace of God. I am deeply touched at the ability of grieving parents who rise above the tragedy and initiate programs that address the deep rooted needs of the individuals who pull the triggers.
The Presence of God is strongly felt when people come together in their brokenness, consoling one another and uniting in hope to make their neighborhood a better place.  Communal prayer is often a part of these gatherings and the support and consolation of the community nurtures the healing process. Imagine how transformative the vigil would be if the spiritual leader preached the message of Leviticus? Something like, OK friends, let us use this tragic event to commit to holiness, to forgive one another of any and all perceived wrongs, and to love one another as unconditionally as the Lord loves us. Let us together engage in the battle against the powers of darkness that engulf our youth by reminding them and reinforcing every day that they are children of God, created in His image and likeness.
Our kids need to hear this message from every adult in their life because they are being crushed by the world that only values the smart, the healthy and the beautiful. In the depth of my heart, I believe that many of these young people committing such cruel crimes are hurting inside because they feel as though they don’t fit in or can’t measure up to standards that are superficial to begin with. They need to know they are loved, valued, they matter, and that they are the beloved of God. This is the foundation upon which the solutions to violence need to be based. Our moaning, groaning, suffering communities will heal when we invite God back into our daily lives…when we choose holiness. 

As the holy season of Lent begins, perhaps we can pray for our hurting communities, and if possible maybe can listen to the young people in our life and remind them that they are loved by us and by God. That encouragement may open up a much needed conversation of how God is present in their lives.

Monday, January 20, 2020

January 26, 2020 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Times

Reading I: Isaiah 8:19-9:3     
Psalm 27
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23

On September 30 of last year, Pope Francis issued a letter declaring that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time was to be set aside every year as the "Sunday of the Word of God." The Holy Father longs for us to listen attentively to the Words of Scripture, so we may hear God’s voice speaking to our hearts.   

Today’s Gospel tells of the account of Jesus inviting Simon, Andrew, James and John to join Him in teaching and proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom. Jesus says to them “Follow after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately follow Him, trusting His word, spreading the light of hope to all who struggle with the circumstances of life. Do we trust God’s Word as written in the Bible, or do we view the Bible as a story to be read?

With every encounter with Scripture we are encouraged to begin with inviting the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to God’s Living Word. In doing this, we will receive God’s personal message for our life that will inspire us to spread His Word within our community. We, like the apostles, are asked to join Jesus in shining His light within our community, to be encourages for all those who are suffering.

Everyone at Mass will hear the same readings. Then the work of the Holy Spirit lies in the personal message each of us will encounter. When these deeply personal messages are revealed through the Scripture readings at Mass, our hearts will long for more. The desire for an intimate relationship with Jesus will lead us to daily Scripture meditation. By opening our hearts and minds, we will understand God’s plan for our daily lives.

When we are healed by His Word, we will be inclined to spread His Good News through the Scriptures. In sharing our personal encounters with the Living Word, we will draw others to Him. In the busyness of our daily lives, do we take the time to sit in silence with the Scriptures, calling on the Holy Spirit to bring to life God’s personal message to us through His Word?

By accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, our lives are forever changed. We are made new by His Word, and sharing the Good News of Christ becomes our mission.

Reflection Question: In what ways do we share the Good News of Christ that have transformed our lives?  How do we bring hope to those who seek Him?

~Michele Ann Konicki – ASBS Emerita

Spanish Translation

Reading I: Isaiah 8:19-9:3     
Psalm 27
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23

El 30 de septiembre del año pasado, el Papa Francisco emitió una carta declarando que el Tercer Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario se reservaría cada año como el "Domingo de la Palabra de Dios". El Santo Padre anhela que escuchemos atentamente las palabras de las Escrituras, para que podamos escuchar la voz de Dios que habla a nuestros corazones.

El Evangelio de hoy habla del relato de Jesús invitando a Simón, Andrés, Santiago y Juan a unirse a Él para enseñar y proclamar el Evangelio del reino. Jesús les dice: "Síganme, y los haré pescadores de hombres". Ellos inmediatamente lo siguen, confiando en su palabra, extendiendo la luz de la esperanza a todos los que luchan con las circunstancias de la vida. ¿Confiamos en la Palabra de Dios como está escrita en la Biblia, o vemos la Biblia como una historia para ser leída?

Con cada encuentro con la Escritura, se nos anima a comenzar invitando al Espíritu Santo a abrir nuestros corazones y mentes a la Palabra Viva de Dios. Al hacer esto, recibiremos el mensaje personal de Dios para nuestra vida que nos inspirará a difundir Su Palabra dentro de nuestra comunidad. A nosotros, como los apóstoles, se nos pide que nos unamos a Jesús para iluminar Su luz dentro de nuestra comunidad, para alentar a todos los que sufren.

Todos en la misa escucharán las mismas lecturas. Entonces la obra del Espíritu Santo yace en el mensaje personal que cada uno de nosotros encontraremos. Cuando estos mensajes profundamente personales se revelen a través de las lecturas de las Escrituras en la misa, nuestros corazones anhelarán más. El deseo de una relación íntima con Jesús nos llevará a la meditación diaria de las Escrituras. Al abrir nuestros corazones y mentes, entenderemos el plan de Dios para nuestra vida diaria.

Cuando seamos sanados por Su Palabra, estaremos inclinados a difundir Sus Buenas Nuevas a través de las Escrituras. Al compartir nuestros encuentros personales con la Palabra Viviente, atraeremos a otros hacia Él. En el ajetreo de nuestra vida cotidiana, ¿nos tomamos el tiempo para sentarnos en silencio con las Escrituras, invocando al Espíritu Santo para dar vida al mensaje personal de Dios a través de Su Palabra?

Al aceptar la invitación de Jesús para seguirlo, nuestras vidas cambian para siempre. Su Palabra nos hace nuevos, y compartir las Buenas Nuevas de Cristo se convierte en nuestra misión.

Pregunta de reflexión: ¿De qué maneras compartimos las Buenas Nuevas de Cristo que han transformado nuestras vidas? ¿Cómo traemos esperanza a quienes lo buscan?

Pat Chiaffa - ASBS Emerita
I am always amazed at how the disciples were able to follow Jesus immediately. What about their “To-Do” lists? They were probably expected to pick up bread and wine on the way home to go with their fish dinner. What would their family do without them?

My silly musing reveals just how attached, and possibly chained, I am to my lists and the things of this world. I ask myself if I make sufficient time in my day for reflective, uninterrupted time with God.I think that the spirits of these chosen men were yearning for more, and they recognized the “more” that Jesus was inviting them to experience.

The hopeful message contained in this reading for me is that Christ speaks to us in the midst of ordinary activities of daily living. The more in-tune I am to His Word, the more apt I am to be open and receptive to following His invitation to move beyond my usual routines and notice opportunities to extend His love to others. It could be as simple as sharing a smile, a gentle touch or a conversation. Heart to heart contact – that is what Jesus’ mission is all about. I see such dynamics routinely when I walk through Paul’s Run. I see Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS) heading toward some destination and halting their steps to

acknowledge residents along the way. I’ve seen simple caring gestures such as hugs, hands held, and whispers into ears, produce smiles as well as tears. Someone’s dull day was brightened and made extraordinary because a SBS chose to share the presence of Christ with them. Many of the Sisters who are less mobile, due to health issues, take time to write notes and send cards to individuals to remind them that they are thinking of them and that they are loved by God. All the Sisters pray for us, our country, and our world. Sharing the Good News of Christ is their mission. It’s my mission too.

Today’s Gospel is a reminder to recommit to listening attentively to God’s Word and actively listening to hear His loving message to discern what is mine to do to spread His Word throughout my community. 

Thank you, Michele, for your beautifully crafted reflection.

Sr. Annette Marie O’Donnell, SBS

I regret that it is necessary for me to discontinue the weekly blog due to the need for time to attend to other commitments and my chronic health issues. I wish to thank Cheri Wenger, Sr. Therese Mary Warner, SBS, Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Emerita, Pat Chiaffa, ASBS Emerita, Michele Konicki, ASBS Emerita, and Kristen Keane for your contributions through the years. There are other on-line weekly blogs containing reflections on the Sunday Gospel readings available. 

I shall continue with a monthly blog beginning on February 23rd, "Preparing for Lent."

Blessings on you and yours,
Sr. Annette Marie O’Donnell, SBS

Monday, January 13, 2020

Jan. 19, 2020 The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time A

Reading I: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6
Psalm 40
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1: 1-3
Gospel: John 1: 29-34

In today's Gospel, we find John the Baptist pointing out Jesus and calling him the "Lamb of God." I have always admired John and viewed him as a wonderful example for us as we strive to introduce people to Jesus and help them to focus on him.

I also love the title John gives Jesus. A lamb is a gentle animal and very lovable. We find Jesus to be a gentle, compassionate man eating with and welcoming sinners. He must have also been very lovable or he would not have drawn crowds to listen to him. Jesus is truly a "Lamb."

Also, from early times, lambs were the sacrifices offered to God in the spring as part of the first fruits, to acknowledge his sovereignty and man's complete dependence on him. They would even put the blood of the lamb they had offered on entrance of their house to show that they had made the sacrifice.

Later, when celebrating their rescue from slavery in Egypt, again a lamb was sacrificed in grateful remembrance of God deliverance from their oppressors. This Lamb would also save his Jewish people and all others from the oppression of sin by his sacrifice of himself on the cross.

Today at each Mass we commemorate Jesus' sacrifice as the Lamb or God in the breaking of the Bread. The following prayer is recited or sung:

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, 
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world,
grant us peace.

Finally, when the priest holds up the Host and invites us to communion with Jesus and one another, John the Baptist's words are again proclaimed:

Behold the Lamb of God,
Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

How very blessed we are to have such a gentle, loving, and sacrificing Savior!
May the Lamb of God be praised and adored forever!

Reflection Question: How can I show my appreciation to our Lord as the Lamb of God?

~Sr. Annette Marie

Spanish Translation

Lectura I: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6
Salmo 40
Lectura II: 1 Corintio 1: 1-3
Evangelio: Juan 1: 29-34

En el Evangelio de hoy, encontramos a Juan el Bautista señalando a Jesús y llamándolo el "Cordero de Dios". Siempre he admirado a John y lo vi como un maravilloso ejemplo para nosotros mientras nos esforzamos por presentar a las personas a Jesús y ayudarles a enfocarse en él.

También me encanta el título que Juan le da a Jesús. Un cordero es un animal gentil y muy amable. Encontramos que Jesús es un hombre gentil y compasivo que come y da la bienvenida a los pecadores. También debe haber sido muy amable o no habría atraído multitudes para escucharlo. Jesús es verdaderamente un "Cordero".

Además, desde los primeros tiempos, los corderos eran los sacrificios ofrecidos a Dios en la primavera como parte de los primeros frutos, para reconocer su soberanía y la completa dependencia del hombre sobre él. Incluso pondrían la sangre del cordero que habían ofrecido en la entrada de su casa para demostrar que habían hecho el sacrificio.

Hoy en cada misa conmemoramos el sacrificio de Jesús como el Cordero o Dios en la fracción del pan. Se recita o canta la siguiente oración:

Cordero de Dios, tú que quitas los pecados del mundo,
ten piedad de nosotros.
Cordero de Dios, tú que quitas los pecados del mundo,
ten piedad de nosotros.
Cordero de Dios, tú que quitas los pecados del mundo,
Dadnos la paz.

Finalmente, cuando el sacerdote levanta la Hostia y nos invita a la comunión con Jesús y entre nosotros, las palabras de Juan el Bautista se proclaman nuevamente:
He aquí el Cordero de Dios
He aquí el que quita los pecados del mundo.
Bienaventurados los llamados a la cena del Cordero.

¡Cuán bendecidos somos de tener un Salvador tan gentil, amoroso y sacrificado!
¡Que el Cordero de Dios sea alabado y adorado para siempre!

Pregunta de reflexión: ¿Cómo puedo mostrar mi agradecimiento a nuestro Señor como el Cordero de Dios?


Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Our Lord was sacrificed on the cross for me, for us. How can I begin to really appreciate the idea of Someone who suffered great pain and died in a brutal way, just to give me eternal salvation? The best I can do is to say “thank you” in prayer and by passing His kindness along to others. As St. Katharine told us, we don’t have to do extraordinary deeds, but we can do our ordinary acts is an extraordinarily charitable way. Smile. Listen to someone who is lonely or hurting. If we let the Lamb of God lead us, we will know how we can show our gratitude to God.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
My lifetime friend, Ceilie, is authentically a gentle being. Time spent in her presence leaves me with the sense that I spent time with the closest model of the Blessed Mother that I can imagine. Ceilie is nurturing, caring and radiates goodness (God-ness). The positive energy of our get togethers stay with me the entire week following our visit. I embrace these special times as indication of God’s immense love for me to have blessed me with such a friend. Ceilie is an open conduit of God’s love and peace. I depart committed to being such a presence for others, though I too often fall short.

When I meet up with Jesus in the New Testament, I am drawn to His gentleness. Jesus acknowledges this trait in Himself in Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

My gratitude for the gift of Self that Jesus freely gave, that I may have eternal life, is equally felt for His continual gift of Self in the Blessed Sacrament. I am humbled by such love, mercy and compassion.

Jesus was also a Shepherd who tenderly gathered and led the sheep, carrying lost ones back to the flock tucked in his bosom.

I show my appreciation by becoming as a lamb, following Jesus and taking adequate time to develop a relationship with him, so like his sheep, I’ll know and heed his voice. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

This leads to true discipleship, which according to Guidepost contributor, Sharon Hinck, requires “interacting with Him constantly; remembering His teaching, listening for His direction, opening our eyes to where He is at work in our home and community.” Jesus helps us adjust our activities and change course when necessary, so we can become the person God created us to be, and to live the life God created us to live.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, transform my thoughts, attitudes, and actions so that I may become an authentic reflection of Your love to others.

Monday, January 6, 2020

January 12, 2020 - The Baptism of our Lord

(This blog has been written by Michele Konicki, ASBS Emerita. From here on, Michele will be alternating blog posts with Sr. Annette. There will be a signature at the end of each blog stating who the author is. Enjoy!)

Reading I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29
Reading II: Acts of the Apostles 10: 34-38
Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17

Today we celebrate the feast of The Baptism of our Lord! Jesus came to be Baptized by John at the Jordan River. Jesus’ baptism is a sign of His deep love for us, to become one with us in our humanity. Baptism brings possibilities for new beginnings, as does the beginning of a New Year. As we celebrate the beginning of 2020, we reflect on the ways in which we can extend ourselves to serve our Lord in our communities. When we were Baptized with water and the Spirit of God descended upon us, we were given the power to share the Good News to bring justice to our community of friends, neighbors, family and all those who cross our path in our daily life. Jesus walks with us each day on our faith journey as a child of God, He does not ask us to walk alone. His Spirit fills us daily to serve Him.

Baptism is the first of three Sacraments of Initiation into our Church Family. When I reflect on the Sacrament of Baptism, what comes to mind is the symbolic cleansing power of water and how Jesus chose to use water to cleanse us from our sins and to fill us with the Holy Spirit to carry on His work in the world. When I recall my own Baptism and how my parents chose to Baptize me into the Catholic Church, I am grateful for their choice. As an adult, I still promise to fulfill God’s personal mission as a Baptized Catholic, to bring forth justice in my circle of community, by the renewal of my Baptismal promises each year at Easter. When I am immersed in water, whether it be my daily morning shower, floating in or sitting by the ocean, being caught in the rain, washing dishes, giving my babies a bath or bathing someone who needs assistance, it is a time I use to reflect on the saving power of Jesus and how I can use each of these encounters to serve our Lord in my ordinary daily routine.

Jesus’ Baptism was performed publicly at the Jordan River. Most commonly today, our Baptisms into the Catholic church are performed in our Parish Church at the Baptismal Font among our family and friends. Baptism is performed publicly to welcome us into the Family of God with our family and friends present to be a witness of God’s saving power and eternal pledge of love. How wonderful is the invitation to be united with Christ, to stand in solidarity as His servant, bringing God’s justice to the earth? In celebrating our Baptism as our official opening of our public mission, just as Jesus was Baptized, we too are filled with the Holy Spirit and are now equipped to share the Good News and embrace the ability to heal others through compassion and service. We are not alone in this mission. Jesus is with us! “The powerful arm of the Holy One reaches out to grasp all of humanity by the hand, both to save from danger and to walk hand in hand like lovers forever.” -Abiding Word

Reflection Question: Share some ways which we presently or plan to move forward in celebrating our Baptism within each day. By standing in solidarity with Jesus, how can we bring forth justice in our community?

~Michele Ann, ASBS Emerita

Spanish Translation

Lecura I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Salmo 29
Lectura II: Hechos 10: 34-38
Evangelio: Mateo 3:13-17

¡Hoy celebramos la fiesta del Bautismo de nuestro Señor! Jesús vino a ser bautizado por Juan en el río Jordán. El bautismo de Jesús es un signo de su profundo amor por nosotros, para ser uno con nosotros en nuestra humanidad. El bautismo trae posibilidades para nuevos comienzos, al igual que el comienzo de un nuevo año. Al celebrar el comienzo de 2020, reflexionamos sobre las formas en que podemos extendernos para servir a nuestro Señor en nuestras comunidades. Cuando fuimos bautizados con agua y el Espíritu de Dios descendió sobre nosotros, se nos dio el poder de compartir las Buenas Nuevas para traer justicia a nuestra comunidad de amigos, vecinos, familiares y todos aquellos que se cruzan en nuestro camino en nuestra vida diaria. Jesús camina con nosotros cada día en nuestro viaje de fe como un hijo de Dios, no nos pide que caminemos solos. Su Espíritu nos llena diariamente para servirle.

El bautismo es el primero de los tres sacramentos de iniciación en nuestra familia de la Iglesia. Cuando reflexiono sobre el Sacramento del Bautismo, lo que viene a mi mente es el poder simbólico de limpieza del agua y cómo Jesús eligió usar el agua para limpiarnos de nuestros pecados y llenarnos del Espíritu Santo para llevar a cabo Su obra en el mundo. Cuando recuerdo mi propio bautismo y cómo mis padres decidieron bautizarme en la Iglesia Católica, estoy agradecido por su elección. Como adulto, todavía prometo cumplir la misión personal de Dios como católico bautizado, hacer justicia en mi círculo de comunidad, mediante la renovación de mis promesas bautismales cada año en Pascua. Cuando estoy inmerso en agua, ya sea en mi ducha diaria de la mañana, flotando o sentada junto al océano, atrapada bajo la lluvia, lavando platos, bañando a mis bebés o bañando a alguien que necesita ayuda, es un momento que uso para reflexionar sobre el poder salvador de Jesús y cómo puedo usar cada uno de estos encuentros para servir a nuestro Señor en mi rutina diaria ordinaria.

El bautismo de Jesús se realizó públicamente en el río Jordán. Más comúnmente hoy, nuestros bautismos en la iglesia católica se realizan en nuestra iglesia parroquial en la fuente bautismal entre nuestra familia y amigos. El bautismo se realiza públicamente para darnos la bienvenida a la Familia de Dios con nuestra familia y amigos presentes para ser testigos del poder salvador de Dios y la promesa eterna de amor. ¿Cuán maravillosa es la invitación a unirse con Cristo, a solidarizarse como su siervo, llevando la justicia de Dios a la tierra? Al celebrar nuestro Bautismo como nuestra apertura oficial de nuestra misión pública, así como Jesús fue bautizado, nosotros también estamos llenos del Espíritu Santo y ahora estamos equipados para compartir las Buenas Nuevas y abrazar la capacidad de sanar a otros a través de la compasión y el servicio. No estamos solos en esta misión. ¡Jesús está con nosotros! "El poderoso brazo del Santo se extiende para agarrar a toda la humanidad de la mano, tanto para salvarse del peligro como para caminar de la mano como amantes para siempre".

Pregunta de reflexión: Comparta algunas formas en que actualmente o planeamos avanzar para celebrar nuestro Bautismo dentro de cada día. Al solidarizarnos con Jesús, ¿cómo podemos hacer justicia en nuestra comunidad?


Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
We were made clean in the sacrament of Baptism. We are made clean again when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. An examination of conscience prior to going to confession would enable us to review our life’s actions and words. It might suggest ways in which we could stand in stronger solidarity with Jesus. Mother Katharine wrote to herself in 1881 to go to God “with the simplicity and like a little child.” Like a little child, we should feel comfortable going to God and asking for help in knowing how we can best act of children of God. 

Mother Katharine didn’t march in protest but she did write letters of support. Do we support groups Jesus would support? A priest once told me that “every drop fills the bucket.” Even a daily prayer can help support social justice. Maybe we could write a letter or call our representative in support of a just cause. A few dollars each year would be of help to a worthy cause. A little help can go a long way.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Thank you, Michele for the beautiful reflection on Baptism. Your words remind me of just how dynamic the Sacrament of Baptism truly is. You reveal the less recognized aspect of the Sacrament that invites us to join in Jesus’ mission to seek justice for all members of God’s creation.

When I was baptized, as an infant, adult participation was very passive. While Baptism was certainly recognized as a Sacrament, it was treated more as an event that Catholics “did” for the baby. The water was considered a sign that original sin was cleansed from the infant’s soul. There was little lasting spiritual connection and, I dare say, no one walked out of the church with a sense of responsibility for social justice. The only social consideration was the party that followed back at the house. To be honest, I did not come away from the Baptism of my children with a sense of being called to minister to others. This understanding and appreciation of Baptism comes after years of adult education, spiritual readings, Bible study and Scripture sharing. Even the annual renewal of Baptismal promises failed to stir within
me a sense of social responsibility for others. I think this was because the emphasis was more on avoiding sin than on evaluating the formation of the Christ(ian) character bestowed upon us as we are Baptized in the Spirit into one Body – making us all One in Christ. That awareness raises my consciousness to the concern for the common good of all humanity.

I’m about to drift off theme a bit, but I stumbled upon a modern day interpretation of the Baptismal promises that expanded my appreciation of the graces and the aliveness of the Sacrament of Baptism. I’d like to share it with our readers. It is from the book, “Sacraments and Justice,” chapter 1, “Baptism and Justice,” written by John F. Baldwin, SJ.

“… it is quite clear that receiving one’s own baptismal dignity implies 
recognizing the dignity and human rights of all people...William Reiser 
has suggested a reformulation of baptismal promises adapted to our 
contemporary circumstances, among them: Do you dedicate yourself 
to seeking the kingdom of God and God’s justice, to praying daily, to 
meditating on the gospels and to celebrating the Eucharist faithfully 
and devoutly? Do you commit yourself to that simplicity of living which 
Jesus enjoined on his disciples? Do you commit yourself to resisting the 
spirit of materialism and consumerism which is so strong in our culture? 
Do you accept responsibility for building community, for being people of 
compassion and reconciliation, for being mindful of those who are poor 
and oppressed, and for truly forgiving those who have offended you?

Reiser’s contention is that we need a fresh look at our baptismal 

promises and the kind of evil that we are renouncing with such 
formulaic phrases as: “Do you renounce evil and refuse to be 
mastered by sin?” Often enough the antiquity of our formulas 
make it difficult to appreciate their modern applications.”

The added emphasis on love-based actions, modeled on Christ’s own lifestyle, pulls forth our “yes” to accept our identity as sons and daughters of God on whom “the baptismal water is never dry,” as stated by Sr. Verna Holyhead, “as we work for justice, for right relationships with God and with one another, as people who will be impartial in our love and gently generous in our service.” 

Lord, help me reclaim the grace bestowed upon me in Baptism so I can respond to your call to share your Good News with those I encounter today.

Monday, December 30, 2019

January 5, 2020 The Feast of the Epiphany

January 5, 2020 - The Feast of the Epiphany - A

Reading I: Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72
Reading II: Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

The word 'Epiphany' means a manifestation, showing, or revelation. This feast celebrates God revealing himself through his Son, the God-man, Jesus, in the form of a human Infant. He shows himself to the simple and the poor in the shepherds and to the learned and the rich in the Magi. He manifests Himself to the Jews and the gentiles (non-Jews). We learn that God wishes to reveal himself to all peoples. All are his beloved children.

Through the years, we see God revealed in his people who have been created in his image and likeness. At Christmas time, ideally, we see the love of God manifested in the kindness of people to their families and those in need. Christmas lights dispel darkness and remind us that like the Child Jesus, we are to bring light to our world.

Henry Van Dyke wrote a beautiful Christmas Story which illustrates this truth. It is one of my favorites: The Other Wise Man. Artaban had hoped to join the three Magi in their search for the new-born King, but he misses the caravan. Therefore, he sets out on his own, but it is too late to see the Infant Jesus. Joseph and Mary had to leave Bethlehem to escape with Jesus because Herod, wanted to destroy him.  

Nonetheless, while Artaban is in Bethlehem, he bribes a soldier who is about to kill a male baby on Herod's behalf. Herod fears that a young king of the Jews might replace him. Can you imagine the relief of the mother that her child is spared as a result of the kindness of Artaban who brings light into a very dark situation?

For thirty-three years, Artaban continues his search but thinks that he has not found him. Nevertheless,  on the journey, he helps many poor and troubled people. Finally, in Jerusalem, he finds the adult Jesus, the King of the Jews, being crucified. He is about to give his treasured pearl as a ransom for Jesus, but he witnesses a young girl being sold into slavery to pay debts of her family.  His heart is touched and he gives the pearl he had intended to give the Infant Jesus to buy her freedom.

Suddenly, the earth quakes as Jesus dies on the cross. Artaban is hit by a large rock. As he lays dying, he hears a voice saying, "When you helped the least of my children, you helped me." During all those years of searching for Jesus, Artaban has been making God present to those in need.  

This story brings to life the lesson Jesus taught about the Last Judgement, as recorded in Matthew's Gospel Chapter 25: 1-46. I am sure that the Lord Jesus must appreciate Henry Van Dyke's deep understanding of and powerful illustration of his important lesson.

Reflection Question: How can I be a light in the darkness for some child of God in need?

Spanish Translation
Lectura I: Isaiah 60:1-6
Salmo 72
Lectura II: Efesios 3: 2-3a, 5-6
Evangelio: Mateo 2:1-12

La palabra 'Epifanía' significa una manifestación, demostración o revelación. Esta fiesta celebra a Dios revelándose a través de su Hijo, el Dios-hombre, Jesús, en la forma de un Niño humano. Se muestra a los simples y pobres en los pastores y a los eruditos y ricos en los Magos. Se manifiesta a los judíos y a los gentiles (no judíos). Aprendemos que Dios desea revelarse a todos los pueblos. Todos son sus amados hijos.

A través de los años, vemos a Dios revelado en su pueblo que ha sido creado a su imagen y semejanza. En Navidad, idealmente, vemos el amor de Dios manifestado en la amabilidad de las personas con sus familias y con los necesitados. Las luces navideñas disipan la oscuridad y nos recuerdan que, como el Niño Jesús, debemos traer luz a nuestro mundo.

Henry Van Dyke escribió una hermosa historia de Navidad que ilustra esta verdad. Es uno de mis favoritos: The Other Wise Man. Artaban esperaba unirse a los tres Reyes Magos en su búsqueda del Rey recién nacido, pero echa de menos la caravana. Por lo tanto, se va solo, pero es demasiado tarde para ver al Niño Jesús. José y María tuvieron que abandonar Belén para escapar con Jesús porque Herodes quería destruirlo.

No obstante, mientras Artaban está en Belén, soborna a un soldado que está a punto de matar a un bebé varón en nombre de Herodes. Herodes teme que un joven rey de los judíos pueda reemplazarlo. ¿Te imaginas el alivio de la madre de que su hijo se haya salvado como resultado de la amabilidad de Artaban que trae luz a una situación muy oscura?

Durante treinta y tres años, Artaban continúa su búsqueda, pero cree que no lo ha encontrado. Sin embargo, en el viaje, ayuda a muchas personas pobres y con problemas. Finalmente, en Jerusalén, encuentra al Jesús adulto, el Rey de los judíos, siendo crucificado. Está a punto de dar su preciada perla como rescate por Jesús, pero es testigo de cómo se vende a una joven como esclava para pagar las deudas de su familia. Su corazón está conmovido y le da la perla que tenía la intención de darle al Niño Jesús para comprar su libertad.

De repente, la tierra tiembla cuando Jesús muere en la cruz. Artaban es golpeado por una gran roca. Mientras se muere, oye una voz que dice: "Cuando ayudaste al menor de mis hijos, me ayudaste a mí". Durante todos esos años de búsqueda de Jesús, Artaban ha estado haciendo que Dios esté presente para los necesitados.

Esta historia da vida a la lección que Jesús enseñó sobre el Juicio Final, como se registra en el capítulo 25: 1-46 del Evangelio de Mateo. Estoy seguro de que el Señor Jesús debe apreciar la profunda comprensión y la poderosa ilustración de Henry Van Dyke de su importante lección.

Pregunta de reflexión: ¿Cómo puedo ser una luz en la oscuridad para algún hijo de Dios necesitado?


Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Our personal “light” is the love God has for us that we return to Him in acts of kindness. Mother Katharine urged the Sisters to be so animated by love of God that their students sensed this love. Being so energized by this love, the Sisters’ examples would encourage the students to pass this energy unto others. The Christophers said, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” One little bit of light can be reflected in the mirrors of others’ eyes. Being a beacon of light can start a 
positive chain reaction.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I received a Christmas card from a friend that included the following written reflection.”

“Thinking about you this Christmas with best wishes and blessings especially for the New Year. I’m trying to center on Christ, thinking about what is more important. Then I found it in one of the sayings of St. Teresa of Calcutta: ‘It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you…yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.'"

I think I’ll smile a lot in 2020. Maybe with consistency, I can make it Christmas every day for someone needing to be reminded that they are valued and loved by God.