“Come, and you will see.”

come and see

By Sister Martha Buser, OSU

The call by Jesus to his first disciples has been our reading from the Gospel recently. Andrew and another friend approached Jesus and he asked them what they wanted.

“Teacher, where are you staying?”  “Come and see,” he replied.

What an open dialogue! Come and see.

On a Wednesday some of us went to distribute food and items with The Forgotten Louisville, an organization that sets up a space at one of the parking areas near the Ohio River. We arrived and opened our trunk as did many other people to give whatever items we could.

The people came. All kinds of people came: young and old, men and women and even children. Jesus seemed to say; “Come and see where I am staying.” I didn’t want Jesus to be staying there in the cold and dark, but He called to me: “Come and see where I am staying.”

An older woman came looking for shampoo. We gave her what we had and she received it as if we had given her gold. Many others came, receiving socks, toiletries, peanut butter crackers, a blanket, and even candy. Each person expressed gratitude profusely.

One man remains in my mind and heart. He told me he was a green beret who now lives near Mount Washington. It became clearer to me as he talked that he had mental issues. He took only crackers, thanked me, and then disappeared into the crowd. Jesus was staying with him, certainly.

Jesus gets around. I realized he lives next door to me where a Muslim family lives — a mother, father, and four beautiful young girls aged 11, 9, 7, and 5. At first, I struggled to say their names, but they called me Martha and showed me affection with grace and spontaneity. Their family life is beautiful as they pray and play. The parents are devout in their lives and prayers. Jesus stays with them.

During the Christmas season we read about Anna, who lived and prayed in the Jerusalem temple. In her old age she recognized Jesus when his parents presented him in the temple. In fact, two old people, Simeon as well as Anna, recognized him. They didn’t even need to ask where he was staying. He was staying with them. Sometimes older people feel useless and pushed aside. Not Anna and Simeon. They knew who they were and they knew who Jesus was. Old eyes are often wide open to reality.

I believe Jesus stays everywhere. We, of course, don’t always see him. But if we ask him and pay attention to his response, we’ll discover him and we’ll do what the disciples did: hang around him and get to know him in all the remarkable places he stays.

 

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher),
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter.

JN 1:35-42

 

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One Wild and Precious Life: A Reflection for the New Year

By Sister Sue Scharfenberger, OSU

Christmas Revolution

Recently I was reminded of one of my favorite poems of Mary Oliver where the last line says:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
—Mary Oliver

When I heard this question, I heard it asked of me, of all of us, of women and men, of youth and aged: what did you do with your one wild and precious life? Or what are you doing?

So, I reflected on the prophet Micah, especially chapter 6,  and I ask, isn’t this the same question that Micah was struggling with and that Jesus was asking of his disciples (Matthew 25): What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

The text of Micah 6:8 presents us with these words: Do what is good and right, practice justice, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God.

Love tenderly. That is exactly what Pope Francis has encouraged us to do. He repeatedly uses the phrase: the revolution of tenderness.

Revolution is that about-face that we are called to when confronted with corruption, violence, or depression. And tenderness has nothing to do with weakness or softness. Rather,  a revolution of tenderness calls us to action with compassion, with clarity. It is visible and  decisive.

What might this revolution of tenderness look like for us?

Maybe we could put up welcome signs on our borders instead of fences. Perhaps our budget for defense could be transferred to education, or health care, or feeding the poor. Perhaps a smile on the faces of security personnel at the airport rather than the abrupt patting down.

So tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

The story of the “last judgment” as some prefer to call Matthew 25 is almost all too familiar. Yes, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the immigrant stranger.

But I grappled with the part of that gospel that says as long as you do it to one of these you do it to me. Perhaps there is another message underlying this gospel: Do it for me, not the me of Nazareth, not the me who died, but the me, the “Cosmic Christ”; the one who is a part of us, the one in whom we are. We cannot give bread to the Jesus of Nazareth. We cannot visit the imprisoned Jesus of Nazareth.

Rather, I believe that Jesus is trying to bring home to us that we are all one in this Cuerpo de Cristo, in this Body of Christ, in this Cosmic lover, the lover of us all. Because if we can understand that feeding and clothing and giving shelter to another is feeding and clothing and giving shelter to this greater community of which we are all a part, then we are all better, made whole, when all can eat, when all have a place to live and work and be cared for so as to care for the other. We are invited into a consciousness of the greater circle of life, a cosmic awareness of our oneness in the universe.

What a revolution!!

It can be very exhausting and frustrating when we contemplate the enormous needs of the poor, the abandoned, those caught in the web of war or genocide or trafficking.

But if our focus, our understanding embraces the connection, the Great Connector, then we realize that whatever we do is for the good of all. And the whole becomes holy, or rather holy becomes us. The totality of who we are is in the cosmic Christ.

So, the question comes back to us: what will you do with your one wild and precious life?  And it is the question for all of us. It is in becoming aware that whether we serve at the soup kitchen, defend the lives of the immigrant stranger, care for the unborn, or the sick and dying, whatever we do for the “least, the poorest, the most abandoned” among us, we are doing it for the Christ, building up the Body of the Cosmic Christ, sharing intimately in the love connection that holds together the universe. A revolution of tenderness!!

So, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

A Prayer for Peace this Christmas

PEACE

I treasure the experience of hanging ornaments on my Christmas tree each year. I have a couple of nostalgic ornaments from our family tree of many years ago – a plastic icicle and an angel standing on a glittery grey plastic bell.

There are the cute ones I made (sometimes with Mom) out of matchsticks, yarn or pipe cleaners, peanuts or soldier clothespins…then there are the fancier ones made of silver, ceramics, pottery, or pressed tin. Most of these are gifts from friends or persons I ministered to or with over the years.

I have a memento ornament from each of the places I have visited—China, Peru, Germany, Israel, Italy and Australia—and Hawaii too! There are also an abundance of angels and nativity scenes among my collection. I love them all because of the memories of family, friends and faith.

Dove ornamentThe one that caught my attention this year is a white ceramic dove in flight with the word “peace” emblazoned on its breast. This ornament held my attention and moved me to reflect on the promise of peace proclaimed at Jesus’ birth. It also reminded me of the lack of peace in many places in our world and in our own country.

I invite each of us to pray, to implore of our good giver of peace, Jesus Christ, to help us individually and as a nation to find ways to make peace and be peace in every corner of our existence.

Wishing you a blessed Merry Christmas,
Sister Ruth Ann Haunz, OSU

The Unexpected Love of Our Mother Jesus

By Sister Martha Buser, OSU

Unexpected Love

Mothers often enjoy talking to their babies while they bathe them. A friend once told me about the time her baby looked at her while she was washing the baby’s feet in a way that was true recognition.

She said to the baby, “Hi there. Yes, I’m the one who takes care of you, cleans and feeds you and loves you no matter what.” She said that she then realized that’s exactly what God says to her, too.

Saint Angela Merici told us to find our first refuge at the feet of Jesus. We almost always picture ourselves at the foot of the Cross, but maybe we’re missing something here. Julian of Norwich liked to speak of Mother Jesus.

Perhaps from the Crib, He looks at us and says what the mother said to her baby as she washed its feet. “Hi, there. You wash my feet, but I also wash your feet. I want you to realize that I love you, wash you with my love and feed you with my Eucharist and am always with you. Do not be afraid for I will always love you no matter what.”

Christmas holds the promise of the Cross and Resurrection. Like Mary Magdalene, we anticipate being at the feet of the Risen Christ, knowing his love no matter what, especially in these troubled times.

“Jesus Christ therefore, who himself overcame evil with good, is our true Mother. We received our ‘Being’ from Him ­and this is where His Maternity starts. And with it comes the gentle Protection and Guard of Love which will never ceases to surround us. 

Just as God is our Father, so God is also our Mother.” 

— “Revelations of Divine Love” by Juliana of Norwich (1342-1416)

Looking to the young

By Sister Martha Buser, OSU

synagogue

A vigil for the victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, PA, on Oct. 27, 2018. (Reuters)

As a season of hope and joy approaches, I look to the young. In October 2018, at the time of the mass shooting in one of Pittsburgh’s synagogues, it was the students from a nearby high school who initiated the first prayer response. Over 2,000 gathered in the rain to repeat these words, almost like a mantra: Love is stronger than hate. They continue to hold on to this challenge. I want to follow them.

Not only did the young people respond with hope and forgiveness, so did everyone who spoke to the reporters. They told the reporters how sad they were because of the tragedy. Almost each on interviewed was determined not to let the hate change them.

The shooting occurred at The Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Squirrel Hill is home to both Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University, and is a very eclectic and diverse neighborhood. It’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to be exact—his church was very near the synagogue. The diversity makes everyone welcome and friendly. People smile and greet one another.

The atrocity of that horrific day did not dishearten the people of this neighborhood. Because love is stronger than hate, they say that they will continue to welcome and greet everyone. We pray that we all can learn from their example.

You call us to build up the kingdom.
Where two or three gather in your name, you are there.
You bring compassion, gentleness, patience, love, joy.

Loving God, these are the gifts I seek for all who are companions on this journey in our community.

Be with us, Lord.

Gentle the ache in our hearts.
May the divided hearts find Your peace.

I forgive, Lord.

I trust, Lord.

Wrap us all in the peace of your arms.

Gather us in your name.
Stay with us Lord.
Amen.

Prayer by Sister Jovita Hatem, OSU

 

 

The Little Shoot: An Advent Reflection

cantiere-agricolo-agricoltura-piantina
Already, with the first reading for the First Sunday of Advent, we hear of the little shoot – in Jeremiah it is a just little shoot. It is most familiar to us from Isaiah: a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. (Isaiah 11.1)  It is most dear in this season as we softly sing of its fulfillment, Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung… amid the cold of winter, when half-spent was the night.

We have begun a new liturgical year. The storm damage of the season past has been cleared away, but the dead stump remains. So it would seem. Often it is only in the early spring ritual of raking out cold, matted leaves from under the bushes that we see the signs of new life. Lifting the heavy, wet leaves reveals the first crocuses breaking through the still frosty earth, stirring us to new life.

Under the shrub we discover a tender shoot layered from the old, overgrown stock. Gently we nestle it with the mulch that nurtured it, carefully watching in the coming weeks for its first bud to open, the familiar leaf so oversized on the tiny stem. For now, it must continue to grow sheltered by the mother plant, still feeding from the established root system. Later, the root will be cut and it will be time to transplant. Or, perhaps, it will grow to fill the space left as the original plant dies back and we cut away the dead wood. Its blooms may be of another color.

In Isaiah, the gentle breath of the Spirit breathes life into the little shoot: the Root of Jesse becomes a sign of hope to the nations. Here and now we see darkly the dead stump in the backyard, but already, in the wintry night air, we can see our breath – God’s gift of life from generation to generation.

Reflection by Sister Carol Curtis, OSU

On that day,

The root of Jesse,

set up as a signal for the peoples—

Him the nations will seek out;
his dwelling shall be glorious.
         —Isaiah 11:10

stumpsmall

 

Bellarmine names Ursuline Terrace in honor of bond with Ursuline Sisters

ursulineterrace

Bellarmine University and the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville dedicated a new reminder of the university’s enduring Ursuline roots on November 27, 2018. The terrace’s naming as Ursuline Terrace is part of a yearlong commemoration of Ursuline College’s merger with Bellarmine College 50 years ago, forming a co-educational college that is now Bellarmine University. The following are Sister Janet M. Peterworth’s remarks at the dedication of Ursuline Terrace. 

Over the 50 years since each of our institutions came together much has happened.  The Ursulines were teachers here at Bellarmine from the time of the merger until not too many years ago when Sr. Patricia Lowman retired. And, of course, many Ursuline Sisters graduated from Bellarmine and some from Bellarmine-Ursuline College. Ursulines have served (and still serve) on the Board of Trustees. So our lives have been intertwined over these 50 years.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 50th anniversary committee for the work and creativity they have put into this celebration year.  It has and will continue to be exciting and heartwarming for the Ursulines. And what a creative and fitting idea to name the terrace outside here Ursuline Terrace!

You may or may not know that Saint Ursula, who is not our foundress, but after whom Saint Angela named her group, was very popular in the medieval period. A great legend grew up around her in the fourth century. She was to be given in marriage by her father to a rich prince. She, however, had made a private vow of celibacy. As the story goes, she had a dream of a pilgrimage that would help her get out of the mess she found herself in.

Through the aid of this dream, she negotiated the following conditions with her father: a three-year delay of the marriage and a pilgrimage to Rome! Ten women of noble descent were to join her (according to the legend, each one was to be accompanied by one thousand virgins – hence the later reference to “Saint Ursula with her Companions”; there would have been approximately eleven thousand of them). And, each of these noblewomen’s fathers was to supply ships for the young women from their territory. Now, Ursula thought that this would NEVER ever happen and she wouldn’t have to marry. But her father called her bluff and said,” OK, I’ll do it. Watch me.” He got his fellow noblemen to send the maidens and the ships!

According to the legend, they all came together and sailed off. For three years while they sailed around the world, Ursula taught them the principles of the Christian faith. On their way back from the pilgrimage, however, they were attacked in the area of Cologne by Huns, who were laying siege to the city. Ursula and her companions were murdered.

There are notations in medieval liturgical texts and in hagiographic literature, in works of painters and sculptures that Ursula and her cult were still highly regarded in Saint Angela’s time. Already Saint Ursula was seen as the patron of parishes, chapels, the Sorbonne in Paris. as well as universities in Vienna and Coimbra. Another interesting fact is that in 1493 Christopher Columbus named the newly discovered islands on the Caribbean Sea the Virgin Islands after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 companions because these little islands dot the sea and reminded him of Saint Ursula and her troupe. I tell you this to point out how fitting it is to have a terrace at a university bearing the name Ursuline. (Just a thought, but it might be interesting to add a plaque to the terrace someday giving the high points of that legend to show why it is so fitting.)

So even though Ursula has been demoted from the official book of saints, she is no little saint! She belongs in a university setting! She belongs here at Bellarmine and as I said earlier, it is fitting that this terrace is named after her…and, of course, the Louisville Ursulines as well.

Thank you,
Sr. Janet Peterworth OSU