A Special Invitation – Seekers Week!
Are you discerning a vocational call to religious life? Are you a single Catholic woman who is curious about the Benedictine way of seeking God. We invite you to come spend time with the Sisters to learn about our life together. Seekers Week at Holy Name Monastery is: December 26, 2020 to January 1, 2021.
Time for Seekers is an opportunity to listen to God in the richness of prayer, liturgy, silence and Community in a monastic setting. Sharing with others and a vocation director is also part of this special program. If this sounds like something that could be the answer to your prayer, register with S. Mary Clare at 352-588-7188 or email@example.com.
If the Seekers Week schedules are not convenient, please know that you are welcome to visit our community when you can arrange to be free of other commitments. There will be opportunities to join the Sisters at daily prayer, Mass and meals. There may be some planned program presentations and time to spend in personal prayer, or enjoy our outdoor environment. The cost in a free-will donation.
Or, you may want to attend our Sunday liturgy (Mass) at 10:30 a.m. to get a sneak preview before arranging an overnight visit. Let us know ahead of time and then introduce yourself and we’ll welcome you for a meal.
To arrange a day-visit please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 352-588-8318. To make arrangements for an overnight visit, contact S. Mary Clare at 352-588-7188 or email@example.com. Please share a little bit about yourself…where you are residing, your parish involvement, your profession, your interest in our community…
In the meantime, you may like to explore the vocation survey found on this website. https://vocationnetwork.org
With kind regards and a prayer that God’s blessings be with you.
Sister Roberta Bailey, O.S.B., Office of the Prioress
Benedictine Sisters of Florida at Holy Name Monastery
PO Box 2450 – 12138 Wichers Road
St. Leo, FL 33574
Phone: (352) 588-8320Continue Reading
One of the keys to understanding the meaning of this Gospel can be found in the description of the judge as corrupt and unjust. Jesus is saying that if even an unjust judge responds to the persistence of the widow, how much more will God heed our prayers. Didn’t Jesus say: “Ask and you shall receive?” Jesus is telling us that God wants us to be like the persistent widow, persisting in our relationship with God, confident that God hears and answers prayers. Jesus also understands how easy it is to lose heart. Maybe that’s why Jesus asks: “Will such faith be found when the Son of Man returns?”
The Gospel implies “yes” but it may be in unexpected places, not among the ones certain of their own righteousness, but among the “widows” among us – the outsiders, the unlovely, the unclean, the ones certain of their sinfulness.
If we could read the Greek version of this parable, we’d get a glimpse of Jesus sense of humor. In the Greek Scriptures the judge gives in to the widow because if he doesn’t he fears she may give him a black eye. Jesus uses this metaphor from boxing to make his point about the need to continue in prayer. Be as persistent as a boxer in the ring.
We say, but do we really believe, God always answers our prayers. We just don’t know WHEN because God takes the long view. Sometimes we have to wait for answers until we’re, as they say: on the other side of the grass.”
Now, I think it’s a safe bet that I don’t have to explain “stubbornness.” Some of us had it sprinkled on us in our cradles! We can prettify it, call it by another name, whatever we want: high principles, perseverance, tenacity, determined or we can call it what it is: just plain pig-headedness.” Some of us seem to be naturally endowed with the “great gift of stubbornness.” We ask God’s help to learn how to be stubborn for the right causes. In that case, we may talk about a “holy stubbornness.” That happens when we start not only to say our prayers, but when we start to live our prayers. In other words, we put our actions where our words are … we put flesh on our Corporate Commitment.
“Will the Son of man find faith when he returns?” That depends. Can prayer move our own arms? Are we willing to put flesh on our words? God always has relied on his children–people like you and me–to usher in His Kingdom. Are our prayers effective? The answer lies squarely with each of us: “it depends on how effective we help make them.”
And, just suppose as Fr. Ed (Lamp) suggests (based on an idea he gleaned from S. Melannie Svoboda) that the characteristics of the widow and the judge are reversed:
What happens, if we say that we are the judge and God is the widow? We, like the judge in the parable, are basically unjust. And, sometimes we have no fear of God; that is, we do not allow God to scare us into being good. Similarly, like the judge we persist in refusing to listen to the cries of the poor all around us.
So, suppose God is the persistent widow who will not go away. God keeps badgering us, refusing to accept as final our “no” to love. God will persist until we render a just judgement, that is, until we let the goodness out, until we learn to love. In Genesis we are told we are made in the image and likeness of God. (Fr. Ed suggests) Perhaps our prayer this week could be: “Dear God, Persevering One, make us more like you!”
(See prayer down below)
This past Thursday our nation celebrated the National Day of Prayer. The Bill for the observance was initiated by Conrad Hilton, (founder of Hilton hotels) and was signed into law in April 1952 by President Truman. Here’s an interest note: the president of the U.S. is required by law to sign a proclamation each year, encouraging all Americans to pray on the first Thursday in May.
Thinking about “prayer” – (but not directly connecting it to the Gospel just read) I find it curious that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray “just as John taught his disciples.” They wanted the words, didn’t they, for certainly Jesus had given them an example of prayer. He had modeled time alone, told them to “go to your room and pray,” raised his eyes, hands and voice in intercessory prayer before miraculous healings. But they, like we, wanted “the words to say.” We forget sometimes that when we descend into our hearts in silent waiting that it is there we meet the Spirit who is already praying within us.
We look for “words,” don’t we … in a prayer book, on a holy card, in the life of a saint …. We look for a guide, a director, a mentor. I don’t mean to belittle the worthwhile role these companions play in our lives which is often critical to our spiritual growth and our salvation. We just need to keep in mind, and really believe, the tremendous role that Scripture plays in our lives. Jesus promised: “The Spirit of Truth will show you all things.” St. Paul reminds us: “If you do these things you can be saved: be joyful at all times, pray without ceasing and give thanks for all things.”
Let’s look for a few minutes at the shortened version of what we call the “Lord’s Prayer.” In it we pray “give us each day” EACH DAY – not a train load of blessings to last us all year – just today’s help, Lord, that’s all I am asking … not even tomorrow’s help … just get me through today – I trust you will be there tomorrow – even when I feel like Mother Teresa once prayed: “I KNOW GOD WON’T GIVE ME ANYTHING I CAN’T HANDLE … I JUST WISH HE DIDN’T TRUST ME SO MUCH.”
In Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, have you noticed the difference in the phrase regarding forgiveness? We pray, “forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.” A strong, firm statement of my willingness to forgive everyone. In the traditional version we pray: forgive us our debts, or trespasses, as we forgive our debtors…” It sounds as if God’s forgiveness to me is measured by my willingness to forgive others.
I like Luke’s version even while I feel it is a greater challenge. I commit, I promise: I will forgive EVERYONE who is in debt to me. No willy-nilly “this one I forgive but not that one, at least not today.” When we pray Luke’s words we vow “I forgive EVERYONE.” Think of that the next time you pray the Our Father … at Mass or in private prayer, you are agreeing to forgive EVERYONE. What a huge and freeing commitment.
And we promise to do it day after day after day. Repetitious practice isn’t just what we may have told our mothers seemed “stupid” and useless. Things like making the bed that we are only going to rumple up in a few hours or doing the dishes after every meal instead of collecting them until the cupboard is bare or cleaning the toilet that someone is going to mess up the minute I leave the bathroom. Repetition perfects, and makes permanent skill in music, in handwriting, in the acquisition of good, or bad habits. And, in the repetition of daily chores (even the tasks only God sees) there is a meaningful expression of hospitality to myself and my companions. In the repetition of the Psalms, of favorite prayers, and liturgical actions there is a meaningful acknowledgment of our creaturely participation in God’s creative act, day after day, after day.
So, we pray day after day for vocations, for peace, for relief from suffering and war and for a forgiving heart. Through our community and personal prayer we feed not only our own spirits, but we are, so to speak, attached by a spiritual cord to everyone we have ever come into contact with. We feed ourselves spiritually, and we also nourish all those contacts through our prayers. Our prayer is universal. We forgive everyone who is in debt to us. Note, in Luke’s memory Jesus did not say “everyone to whom we owe a debt” … rather those who are in debt to us. Who would that be? And, why would someone be in debt to me?
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress
First reading Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41 Second Reading Revelation 5:11-14
Gospel John 21:1-14Continue Reading
For a moment, imagine, if you will, that you are an aspiring athlete, artist, musician, writer, chef or whatever… By a stroke of good fortune, you manage to secure as your mentor the person you consider to be tops in the field. At once you begin to study under that person and hone your skills, soaking up everything you can learn from your champion.
One day after your lesson your mentor introduces you to a person she considers THE expert in the field. In fact, she suggests that if you really want to perfect your skills this is the person under whom you should study; leave your classes with her and follow that other person lead.
In a sense, this is what is happening here in this Gospel text. John the Baptist is a great prophet. Jesus himself once called him the greatest prophet who ever lived. Naturally, John has picked up a few disciples, people who are devoted to him as their spiritual leader. But now John has recognized that somebody else has come along who is far greater then he will ever be. In fact, when Jesus shows up, John realizes that he is now in the presence of One whose sandals he is not even worthy to untie. He may be a prophet, but this man is the Lamb of God, the Son of the Most High, the very Savior of the world.
This is astonishing, really, for what preacher would point his disciple to another’s preacher’s ministry? Here we see that John recognizes his calling and that he is fully in agreement with his purpose, which is not self-promotion. Instead, as John explains in the early part of his gospel: “He must increase, I must decrease.” His following must grow; my purpose is to point you to His way. He is the chosen one of GOD, I am not worthy to even unloosen his shoes.
If you’ve ever thought about it, (or think about it now) you may realize that one of life’s more challenging roles is to take the second place when once you’ve held first place. School principals who step back into the classroom; heads of departments who now work the floor; a committee or commission chair who now is worker-bee; parents who cut the apron strings so their child can soar or, in a case close to home, a superior who rotates out of leadership. S. Lynn Marie McKenzie writes about this dynamic in her article on “Servant Leadership” in the Fall Issue of BENEDICTINES. (And it fits right in this week with the reading from the Rule, chapter 2, on the Qualities of the Prioress.) Sister Lynn reminds the reader that “one does not begin monastic life as a prioress but begins as a member of the community, and one usually does not end monastic life as a prioress but as a member of the community.
When in community we prepare for election of prioress, we often speak of the “grace of office”. A smooth transition into, out of various roles is reliant on the grace John the Baptist showed in commending his disciples to focus on Jesus and His way. He prepared his friends, his disciples to move on from his teaching and instead to devote themselves to Jesus. This is so typical of John. It was the whole purpose of his life. Even before he was born, God had determined that John’s life would be spent pointing people towards Jesus. An angel told his dad before he was born: This child will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before the Lord, in spirit and power to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
So look at John! In your mind’s eye, follow his finger to whom is pointing! Hear what he’s saying! In the story he’s standing with two of his friends when Jesus walks by. He seizes the opportune moment. He says to his friends, “Look, there goes the Lamb of God. Here’s your chance. What are you waiting for? Go! Follow him! He’s the one you’ve really been looking for.
All they know is what John has told them about Jesus – they don’t really yet know Jesus. They don’t know where he is going or if he wants them to follow. But follow they do – at a distance. That’s what’s so noteworthy about what happens that day. As these two men follow him at a distance, Jesus turns around. He initiates the exchange. He confronts them. “What are you looking for? What are you after? I see you following me, what are you hoping to find? What do you think I can do for you?”
So what if, right now, Jesus stopped in his tracks, faced you, and asked point blank, “What are you looking for? I see you’ve been following me. I know you’ve been checking me out. Well, what do you want? What do you think I can do for you? What do you want me to give you? Where do you think I am leading you? Do you think I have all the answers? Can I fix your life? Or are you just curious?
Will your answer be the same as John’s followers: “Teacher, where are you staying?” You know what Jesus answers, “Come and see.” This is so typical Jesus – always an invitation is extended, a gracious and wide open invitation. And, what’s more, the invitation always comes with a promise. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. Ask and you will receive. Come to me if you are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. You who are thirsty come to me and drink. Come to the feast for I have prepared a place for you at the table. Always Jesus invites us: come and see!
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress
First Reading 1 Samuel 3:3b–10,19 Second Reading 1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a,17–20
Gospel John 1:35–42
MESSAGE FOR THE 54th WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS
Sunday, May 7, 2017
In the last few years, we have considered two aspects of the Christian vocation: the summons to “go out from ourselves” to hear the Lord’s voice, and the importance of the ecclesial community as the privileged place where God’s call is born, nourished and expressed.
Now, on this 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like to reflect on the missionary dimension of our Christian calling. Those drawn by God’s voice and determined to follow Jesus soon discover within themselves an irrepressible desire to bring the Good News to their brothers and sisters through proclamation and the service of charity.
Commitment to mission is not something added on to the Christian life as a kind of decoration, but is instead an essential element of faith itself. A relationship with the Lord entails being sent out into the world as prophets of his word and witnesses of his love.
In the depths of their hearts, all disciples hear this divine voice bidding them to “go about,” as Jesus did, “doing good and healing all.”
To be a missionary disciple means to share actively in the mission of Christ. Jesus himself described that mission in the synagogue of Nazareth in these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” This is also our mission: to be anointed by the Spirit, and to go out to our brothers and sisters in order to proclaim the word and to be for them a means of salvation.
Our mission might appear to be mere utopian illusion or at least something beyond our reach. Yet if we contemplate the risen Jesus walking alongside the disciples of Emmaus, we can be filled with new confidence. Jesus transformed the disciples’ discouragement. He made their hearts burn within them, and he opened their eyes by proclaiming the word and breaking the bread. In the same way, we do not bear the burden of mission alone. We come to realize, even amid weariness and misunderstanding, that “Jesus walks with us, speaks to us, breathes with us, works with us”.
The seed of the Kingdom, however tiny, unseen and at times insignificant, silently continues to grow, thanks to God’s tireless activity. God surpasses all our expectations and constantly surprises us by his generosity. He makes our efforts bear fruit beyond all human calculation.
With this confidence born of the Gospel, we become open to the silent working of the Spirit. There can be no promotion of vocations apart from constant contemplative prayer. Our life needs to be nourished by attentive listening to God’s word and, above all, by the cultivation of a personal relationship with the Lord in the Eucharist, our privileged encounter with God.
I wish heartily to encourage this kind of profound friendship with the Lord, above all for the sake of imploring from on high new vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. I ask parish communities, associations and the many prayer groups present in the Church, not to yield to discouragement but to continue praying that the Lord will send workers to his harvest.
Dear brothers and sisters, today too, we can regain fervor in preaching the Gospel and we can encourage young people in particular to take up the path of Christian discipleship. Despite a widespread sense that the faith is listless or reduced to mere “duties to discharge,” our young people desire to discover the perennial attraction of Jesus, to be challenged by his words and actions, and to cherish the ideal that he holds out: a life that is fully human, happy to spend itself in love.
Mary Most Holy, the Mother of our Savior, had the courage to embrace this ideal, placing her youth and her enthusiasm in God’s hands. Through her intercession, may we be granted that same openness of heart, that same readiness to respond, “Here I am,” to the Lord’s call, and that same joy in setting out, like her, to proclaim him to the whole world.