Posted by: sisterbernice | February 11, 2011

Mercy

I trust in the mercy of the Lord.   St. Faustina assures us of the Lord’s mercy.  Today’s readings speak to this as does the Feast of this Day – Our Lady of Lourdes.  The Lord loves.  He teaches love.  He teaches forgiveness.  He heals.   Here are today’s readings, followed by a prayer to our Lady of Lourdes.

Now, some may not want my prayers, may be offended by them.  I pray about that too.  I often think I could have expressed something better.  Sometimes what I meant, isn’t what I hear when I reread.  Why? Maybe I wrote in haste or there are no words or my own emotions get in my way. But one thing I know – the Lord hears me and understands.  He knows that my prayer comes from my heart.  He knows it is not about me.  He knows more than I ever will about the pain.  I trust in his mercy for he is God.

The more one suffers, the closer He is.  I know this, not just because of faith indoctrinated in me.  In working in a cancer center, with victims of another kind, I learned that God is near.    Whenever I doubt, I re-experience his presence within me or through someone else.  Often it is subtle, sometimes it is my face.  So, I don’t believe because the Church tells me to.  I believe because I have experienced the Lord in many ways.

I have also offended Him in more ways than I can say.  Yet, he still reaches for me.  I sometimes have to force myself to take a leap, and trust in Him.  Sometimes my trust is lukewarm but it is always met with a gift of grace.  I write every Friday in my own meager way to God.  And so, I put in His hands my own anger about this horrific betrayal.  I put in His hands my plea, meager as it is, with confidence that he knows what I mean.  I trust in his mercy and I try to be merciful.

What is mercy.  It is forgiveness, it is compassion, it is love.  And, so I know what I am doing – in love, with trust, is not wasted and will bear fruit.  What kind of fruit? I don’t know and probably won’t ever see or know.  But, I have seen and experienced so many miracles, so much suffering met with compassion in the midst of cruelty -the world shows cruelty to us at many moments – that I cannot turn my back on Him, or on prayer to Him.

I invite you all to pray – even if you don’t believe – what do you have to lose? Who will know – you won’t lose face – you won’t be seen as “weird”. It doesn’t make you “stupid or irrational”.  I have an advanced academic “scientific” professional degree and am not seen as a sap or unreasonable by others.  Maybe the mental exercise or prayer in and of itself is helpful? And maybe, it will bear fruit in helpful, unexpected ways.  Really, what does anyone have to lose by praying to God?

And, for those of us in the Church, who believe the Church is more than an organization – prayer is just as important as vigilance.  Pray for your priests and bishops.  This is part of my routine which I do every week.  As a professional who is a mandated reporter – please know that the Church isn’t the only place abuse takes place – it is not the main place.  It would be a mistake to think that.  It would be a mistake to think that organizational structures are to blame – people and failure of people are to blame.  This is true for all children in at-risk situations.  Pray for these children and our society as a whole.   Be vigilant in all areas of life.  Evil doesn’t care about labels and boundaries— as we have so painfully learned in this crisis.

Today’s readings:

Responsorial Psalm  Ps 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7 

R. (1a) Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.

Mk 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF LOURDES from http://www.lourdes-france.org

Mary, you showed yourself to Bernadette
in the crevice of the rock.
In the cold and grey of winter,
you brought the warmth, light and beauty
of your presence,

In the often obscure depths of our lives,
in the depth of the world where evil is so powerful,
bring hope,
return our confidence!

You are the Immaculate Conception,
come to our aid, sinners that we are.
Give us the humility to have a change of heart,
the courage to do penance.
Teach us to pray for all people.

Guide us to the source of true life.
Make us pilgrims going forward with your Church,
whet our appetite for the Eucharist,
the bread for the journey, the bread of life.

The Spirit brought about wonders in you, O Mary :
by his power, he has placed you near the Father,
in the glory of your eternal Son.
Look with kindness
on our miserable bodies and hearts.
Shine forth for us, like a gentle light,
at the hour of our death.

Together with Bernadette, we pray to you, O Mary,
as your poor children.
May we enter, like her, into the spirit of the Beatitudes.
Then, we will be able, here below,
begin to know the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven
and sing together with you :
Magnificent !

Glory to you, Virgin Mary,
blessed servant of the Lord,
Mother of God,
dwelling place of the Holy Spirit!

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Posted by: sisterbernice | February 4, 2011

I will never forsake or abandon you

While God created the Church and is present within the Church, the Church is not God.  God will heal, he will give justice but he will also have mercy.  His ways are not our ways.  Have faith in Him.

Today’s first reading is very important as is the Psalm.  Victims would answer the question in the first reading somewhat skeptically, maybe even bitterly – “The Lord is my helper and I will not be afraid – what can anyone do to me?”

Their answer would probably be  – people can do a lot to me.  All people who suffer can say that.  What is the purpose of suffering? And, how close is God to us when we suffer.  God is right next to the victims.  He is near all of us but especially those that suffer.  I can imagine that those who are hurt by priests and religious are especially closer than they think they are.  I imagine God has more mercy and tenderness toward them than any of us can imagine.   They have more grace given than we can possibly imagine. Embrace God’s grace even if you can’t embrace the Church, even if aren’t a victim. God is worth more than anything.

Today is first Friday – I went to Eucharistic Adoration, read the readings, said my prayers, abstained and send the rosary.  I hope all of us remember the victims of sex abuse – including the abuse against the Lord in our prayers tonight.  The first and second readings are below, the gospel on St. John the Baptists assassination is found at the site I always take the readings from – US Conference of Bishops site – say a prayer for them every time you visit.

Heb13:1-8

Let brotherly love continue.
Do not neglect hospitality,
for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.
Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment,
and of the ill-treated as of yourselves,
for you also are in the body.
Let marriage be honored among all
and the marriage bed be kept undefiled,
for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.
Let your life be free from love of money
but be content with what you have,
for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you.
Thus we may say with confidence:

The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?

Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Ps 27:1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
For he will hide me in his abode
in the day of trouble;
He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent,
he will set me high upon a rock.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Posted by: sisterbernice | January 28, 2011

Praying

I have nothing new to share or say tonight.  I’ve kept up my praying, rosary and Friday abstinence for the victims and the Church.  I keep praying also for all those children who have been and are being abused by people other than members of the Church.  Who speaks for them?  Who fights for them.  Let us all pray for the children, now and then.

These are today’s readings:  http://www.usccb.org/nab/012811.shtml

Today is also the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.  I found this simple prayer by him.  Perhaps it is the most powerful thing I can offer tonight.

Grant me, O Lord my God,
mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.

Amen

Taken from: http://www.catholic.org/clife/prayers/prayer.php?p=832

Posted by: sisterbernice | January 21, 2011

the powerless put the powerful to shame

I think we should all pray that the Irish visitation helps promote healing and change.

Once again this week we were treated with the media and the lawyers producing a “smoking” gun.  I’ve read a lot of the journalists who have debunked this current claim but not one of them, so far, has pointed out that the letter is after the fact.  The letter was after the scandal began to break.  Let’s be clear about what the scandal is – first it is the event or events of abuse itself.  Next it is the “coverup”.  Now the “coverup” really takes different forms.  For many of the Irish who have been hurt, they had no parents or adults in their lives but that is not true of all.  So, let’s cut through all the bullshit if we want to change.  The farther away from the event, you have a harder time to not only prove collective guilt but also to make sense of it.  Blame is much closer to home, so to speak.  For example, parents and other adults are part of this “cover up”.  Adults in the institutions and parishes looking the other way, not asking questions, etc.  are part of the story.  This is not to get bishops off the hook – they bear the brunt of the ecclesiastical responsibility and guilt – especially those bishops who just moved people around.  But here is the thing Are we going to indict everyone or are we going to heal?

I think that this is why the Pope asked in his letter for Church as a whole to commit to change, to prayer, to healing. We all have the need for conversion – not just the bishops and the Vatican authority figures.  These authority figures have been mostly ignored in the past on most things related to their pronouncements for the Church so even if a “smoking gun” turns up, I personally wouldn’t make much of it.  There is too much evidence that bishops do their own thing.  In hindsight, it is easy to tell the Vatican what it should have done,  BUT, really, the bishop was the one who should have done something. That many did not know what to do is clear.  That many got bad advice is clear. That some were abusers themselves is clear as is the fact that most lacked courage.  But any bishop who hides behind the Vatican or tries to throw the blame their way is avoiding his responsibility.  He can say – I didn’t understand as I got confusing advice but even the “smoking gun” letter shows a deference to the bishops as it is a two way discussion, not a directive.

Clearly none of the past can be undone.  We can only learn, try to prevent, grow as a Church and as a people.  AND, help heal.  I pray for healing.  The news articles only show how deep the damage is even if they are making false or problematic claims.  The pain is palpable but the problem is much more complex than the sound bites and as I have said out loud before, the victims continue to be re-victimized by some of this.

I do my usual routine of prayers tonight and today’s readings are here.  I wrote this before reading them but I find them interesting in light of what I wrote.  The first reading is about Jesus establishing a new covenant and I am basically talking about a new beginning.  The Gospel is the establishment of the College of Bishops – the apostles – ironic in a way.

Today is also the feast of Saint Agnes.  Saint Agnes pray for us and come to the aid of the children, most who are grown but who as children were raped as was threatened to you, raped by men and women who were vowed their lives to God – the Lord whom you died for rather than surrender.  This betrayal hurts us all.

Prayer to St. Agnes from here, the lectionary of the Episcopal Church is quoted below.  Of all the prayers to St. Agnes that I read tonight, this seemed the closest to my sentiments – the pain and suffering of the victims will make us a better Church, a better people and may lead to conversion of many hearts.

“Almighty and everlasting God, who choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of your youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

Posted by: sisterbernice | January 14, 2011

Faith, love, hope

Another Friday, and another event filled day.  Many are up in arms over JPII’s beatification.  They are saying he didn’t act or didn’t act fast enough about the sex abuse cases and therefore, this is too soon, too fast,  unwarranted etc.  I have mixed feelings about it.  I think he is a saint and do understand his slowness to act.  In Poland, these accusations were used against good men by the communist regime.  He also, I think, could not imagine the widespread nature of it.  I don’t think many could. The abused could but if you aren’t inclined to see evil or look for evil, the blinders are thick.  I know, I think that is true of me and others.  It was true of the adults around the children being abused.  They couldn’t see.I don’t think that stops people from being good or from being saints.  It makes people human.  There is no solution to that, just as there is no ability to undo.

There is the ability to heal.  Faith, love and hope are powerful.  In today’s Gospel, we see one of the “ways” of the Lord.  He heals when asked.  First he heals the rift caused by sin, second he heals the physical.  And, we – we are left glorifying God. Our actions are to ask, to have faith, to love, to have hope.  These are powerful and so, I ask the Lord for help – for forgiveness and healing.I bring this to him in prayer. I hope for forgiveness and healing.  I look for signs like the crowd.  And, I give glory to God.  Amen.

Was not JP II a champion of faith, love and hope?  If we believe he did not do enough while on earth, why not pray to JP II right now as well, ask him to beg for help.  I already think he does.  But, if you are someone who was abused or who blames him for inaction or worse, pray to him now.  Tell him now what you went through, all of it, and if, you can, ask for his intercession.  There is no doubt he loved the Lord.  He, like us, can ask.  Unlike us, perhaps, he needs to ask at this time?

Mk 2:1-12

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”
–he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Posted by: sisterbernice | January 7, 2011

Begging

I am on my way to Eucharistic Adoration.  I have read today’s readings.  The Gospel is important to me today.   I am like the leper, begging the Lord, Please make the Church clean.  That is my cry.  I think it can just be that simple this week – begging the Lord to will it. Amen
Lk 5:12-16

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus,
he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
And the leprosy left him immediately.
Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but
“Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing
what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
The report about him spread all the more,
and great crowds assembled to listen to him
and to be cured of their ailments,
but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray

Posted by: sisterbernice | December 30, 2010

Every lie is alien to the truth

As we approach the new year on the calendar, I think of all the resolutions I make that I don’t keep.  One of them is going to confession.  I should go but don’t.  I haven’t gone since I decided to go face-to-face for the first time.  I did so and the priest mocked me.  It took a lot of courage for me just to do the face-to-face and so I was only revealing small things on the way to bigger ones.  Of course, I never got to the “bigger” things and left the room without confessing.  Years later that priest was defrocked after he continually “stalked” a teenage girl whom he made sexual advances to.  I share this story because I’d like some who might read this to know that although not abused, I do understand the lack of trust.  I share the story to reinforce my need to make this resolution and follow through on it.  Confession is not about the priest.  I also share this story because we don’t hear of good bishops doing the right thing – only the ones who didn’t.  That’s why I don’t believe there is a conspiracy to cover-up.  No, just weak individual bishops or ones who didn’t know what to do.  That doesn’t excuse the cover-up, but is why I think  what I think.

Brothers and sisters, the above is a confession that I am a sinner. Pray for me.  I am also a believer, pray for me.  It is the new year and I will resolve once again, not only to go to confession but to live a truly Christian life. 

I’m posting on Thursday, instead of Friday because I won’t have internet access again until Tuesday.  I will not forget to pray tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s readings can be found here.  I chose the first reading because I found it the hardest to grasp.  The responsorial refrain is one of pure joy to me so I’ll repeat it — Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice! —and then here is the first reading to contemplate:

1 Jn 2:18-21

Children, it is the last hour; 
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming,
so now many antichrists have appeared. 
Thus we know this is the last hour. 
They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;
if they had been, they would have remained with us. 
Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number. 
But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One,
and you all have knowledge. 
I write to you not because you do not know the truth 
but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

As stated, I find this somewhat mysterious, but, I also see the abuser priest as one of the antichrists!  And the Church needs to take heed of the last two lines:  “I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.”

God bless and may you experience a joyful New Year

Posted by: sisterbernice | December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Fridays have been interesting in this year of repentance on behalf of the Church in Ireland. Each week had its challenges and it seemed each week had new revelations –on Fridays! Sometimes I’ve acknowledged them. Today is no different – no revelations as much as Christmas Eve falls on Friday. I’m sure a preacher would have much to offer to reflect upon. I just think about it simply. God gives his Son once again. Every year God renews his covenant with us on Christmas. Do we respond? Do we reciprocate? Last week I would have said – yes but found myself so busy in external things that my whole spiritual life and commitments were overlooked. The week since has been the same. It is like I can’t get off the tread mill in front of me. There are so many demands and only so much time. BUT, the season reminds us of the important things with the SUPREME important thing – God loves us. And, he calls us to love him back. Do so, there is healing in the relationship between God and Human.

Let us love. May everyone enjoy a joyous and blessed Christmas.

Posted by: sisterbernice | December 18, 2010

the first time

Yesterday was the first time I didn’t post when I was supposed to.  I’ve posted late before but it was planned ahead of time because of work related or family related conflicts.  Yesterday, I thought of it twice but was so busy with Christmas travel preparations, it got beyond me.  I don’t like that!

This is important and so, today I am making amends with my prayers.  Hope you prayed as well.  I don’t have time to do a post in length today.  I guess I’m learning something very important about how hectic my Christmas season is.  It shouldn’t be!  Prayer and time for others is important.  I pray for all victims, and for the Church.  It is my sincere desire that the Lord hears my prayers, knows that I am begging him for us.  Please help.  Pray for the victims, the Church and, for me.

 

Thank you.

Posted by: sisterbernice | December 10, 2010

Do you believe in Love?

What is Catholicism all about?  We start a new year and is once again evident that it is about love – God’s love for us.

The abuse scandal is a betrayal of love.

I pray that victims love, love God who will heal.  If I were a victim, I’d find this hard.  How could I love a God who allowed this to happen, why did this happen?  I don’t know the answer but I do know that their pain is transforming the Church and world.  I only wish that we would extend our awareness and willingness to do something about it to the population in general.

Today’s readings are once again beyond me in relation to my purpose. I had no specific inspiration except for what I wrote above.   I read the readings and had those thoughts Here they are:

Is 48:17-19

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.

Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Responsorial Psalm

R. (see John 8:12) Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Mt 11:16-19

Gospel

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare this generation?
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

God is love, let us praise Him. Let us ask him, beg him for his mercy.

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