Beware the Danger of Leadership

A Lenten Reflection by Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Long ago in my novitiate class, we were warned to “beware people who aspire to office.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I guessed there existed, even in religious life, individuals who were hoping to “climb the ladder,” acquiring authority, prestige, power.

If you’ve ever been the child, spouse or parent of an “important personage,” you’ve probably realized what a hazardous matter it is to be in charge.

Scripture readings during Lent give us several examples to ponder. Adam and Eve couldn’t resist eating that fruit: who wouldn’t want to “be like gods, knowing what is good and what is evil.” They wound up wearing fig leaves, not such a great fashion statement, but they certainly did know good and evil.

God promised to make Abram a great nation—a promise powerful enough to induce Abram to leave all that was dear and familiar. Mugs currently on sale in the supermarket proclaim, “Not all who wander are lost,” but as Abram and his folks made their way, with many misadventures, from southern Mesopotamia through Egypt (big trouble there—Abram’s own fault) to the land of Canaan, there had to have been some hot discussions about “wandering” and “lost.”

Jesus is, of course, the prime example of the dangers inherent in leadership. He chaired a committee with some truly powerful leaders—Moses and Elijah—who endorsed him along with his father in the “bright cloud,” but Jesus knew men’s hearts (it says somewhere) so he forbade Peter, James and John from telling anyone what they’d experienced “until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Jesus was the leader, all right, but what a thankless task that turned out to be (as it had been for Abram, Moses and leaders we might think of in our own time.)

The moral of this story? Pray for all leaders. Offer encouragement to those you appreciate, but count your blessings if you aren’t cast in that role!

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Begin Your Journey to Jerusalem – A Reflection for Lent by Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

“TO LIVE IN HEARTS WE LEAVE BEHIND IS NOT TO DIE”

                                                                                                                            –Thomas Campbell

Lent 2017 lights our hearts with the realization that Christ suffered, died and is with us!  Thomas Campbell’s quote is a song of praise, a hymn of joy, an alleluia of faith and hope and truth.  As the Lenten journey begins, invite the presence of Christ to fill your heart.  That is the grace He wants to give us. Build your relationship in silence with Scripture – His Word of this season with an attitude of thankfulness,

lent-2017Approach Him with thanks for all His goodness bestowed on you.  Count the ways:  parents, loved-ones, family, health, sickness, friends, and all the hardships –your journey to your Jerusalem, your losses, struggles—your life as you live now.

Besides living in our hearts, Jesus is alive—risen with an incorruptible body and spirit.  Lent gives us space out of our busy and noisy lives to stop and ask: “What have I done for those I love?  What have I done lately for Christ?”

Matthew 25:35-37 goes to the heart of our reality check:  “…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, sick and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…”

05 School mealAt the beginning of Lent, try to live in the present moment with the Christ.  He will go to Calvary, Yes.  But He is risen and wants to walk with us—with you—on this 2017 trek to Jerusalem, a time that will never come again!

He is not dead. He lives. He lives in the broken lives and silent cries of our brothers and sisters who make up the mystical Body of Christ.

Find a quiet space.  Read or remember your favorite Scripture story of Christ.  Place yourself in the scene.  Notice His gestures, His expressions.  Hold a conversation with Him about your hopes for this Lent.   Remembering our brothers and sisters, share with the Lord your Lenten plan.

Suggested Scripture: Matthew 25:31-41

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LCWR Expresses Deep Concern about Executive Orders

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has issued a public statement voicing its deep concern about many of President Trump’s recent executive orders.
 
The Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, active members of the LCWR, wish to share that statement with you.

https://lcwr.org/media/news/lcwr-expresses-deep-concern-about-executive-orders

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“It’s For Us!” An Epiphany Reflection by Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

“Hurry up and wait” isn’t just a sarcastic Army slogan.  We do it often when going to doctors’ offices, and for our Sisters, it seems like it is the standard practice at the podiatrist’s office.  So I was not surprised to be sitting and sitting while the Sister I had taken there was back in the treatment area.

The waiting room is the length of a train car, and it is narrow.  So those in the waiting area sit facing each other with about four feet from knee to knee.  I was across from the receptionist, and a young man she’d addressed as Timothy was discussing payment options with her.  When it was settled and he walked toward the other end of the room, I noticed that his gait was awkward, like someone with cerebral palsy.   He sat down opposite me and watched as I crocheted a top on a towel.

il_570xn-594290918_rmjx“What are you making?” he asked.  I held it up and replied, “One of those towels you can hang from a knob or a handle on a cupboard.

“Oh, that’s pretty!” he exclaimed.  Then he was called to the treatment area, leaving his jacket next to another young man and an older man I presumed was their driver.

It occurred to me that I could hide the finished towel inside his coat, so I hurried to finish it and tucked it into his jacket, cautioning the other young man, “You didn’t see anything.”  He nodded solemnly.

I returned to my seat and began reading a magazine, hoping to get out of there before he returned, but no such luck.  He came out and picked up his jacket.  Out fell the towel I’d rolled up and tied with red yarn.  He picked it up and showed it to the others, a big question mark on his face.  “That lady (pointing to me) put it there,” said his companion.  So Timothy walked it back to me and held it out.  “It’s for you,” I explained.  “It’s Christmas, it’s a present.”  His face lit up and he hurried back to the others, exclaiming, “It’s for us!  We can keep it! It’s a Christmas present for us!”

Maybe he doesn’t get many gifts, although he seemed well dressed and well groomed.  Maybe it was the surprise element that delighted him. Whatever, I was delighted by his reaction and later, walking to the darkened parking garage to retrieve the car, it occurred to me that he had repeatedly said, “…for uswe can keep it!” Not “…for meI can keep it!”

joy-of-giving-8What a rare treasure Timothy turned out to be, so in union with his living companions that there seemed nothing self-centered in his view of my simple gift.  He gave me a much richer gift, and I’m still cherishing it—and him.

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A Reflection for Christmas 2016

By Sister Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH President

Readings:
Isaiah 52:7-10;
Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6 ;
Hebrews 1:1-6;
John 1:1-18

God comes among us in total helplessness, dependency and all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God!  What a mystery!

Our second reading on Christmas Day from the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: “In times past, God spoke … through the prophets….” Now it’s a new day and God speaks to us through Jesus – the Word made flesh; the very imprint of God.  The Word that John reminds us is God – the Word became flesh and dwells among us.

20 days old baby sleeping in a christmas nativity crib

The Savior of the World – the Prince of Peace – the Light of the World – a baby!  Recently I was with some of my family and marveled as I watched my nieces, nephews and their spouses tend to their babies.  Besides wondering how quickly the years have passed, I was filled with gratitude and tenderness as those parents tended to the vulnerability, the dependency, the preciousness of their little ones.   How awesome that our God chose to come to us by becoming one of us!  Doesn’t that just turn everything upside down?

The heart of God bursts forth to come and be among us – to be the true Light that enlightens everyone, and the darkness will never overcome it.  What a radical hope is ours!  Can we this Christmas accept the Word within us and among us – the Word around us that continues to depend on us to be light in a world that often seems to be on the brink of being overcome by darkness?  Can we be light in the darkness of injustice, of poverty, of mental illness, of broken relationships, of war, of our own shortcomings and failures?

We gather this Christmas fed by the hope and promise of our Advent waiting and longing.  With mercy and in joy, may we truly awake to a new dawn of a promise fulfilled – a Love so deep that it cannot be contained and must dwell among us and be a Light to all peoples.  Can we accept the gift?  Can we embrace the Light of the World and the promise that the Light will fill us and be with and among us always?

light-has-shoneWhat might it look like as we gather with others this Christmas and into the New Year if we truly accept the gift given us – the gift of God’s very self to share with all the world and to recognize in all our sisters and brothers; the gift we have received through the promise of God’s Spirit poured out on all flesh?

It is the Spirit that frees and empowers each of us to take up the challenge offered us by Howard Thurman (1899-1981), an African American theologian, educator and civil rights leader in his reflection, The Work of Christmas, found below:

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.”

Thank you from your sisters, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, for joining with us in our efforts to give birth daily to the Reign of God and “to make music in the heart,” especially this Christmas as we sing: Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE!

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A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

advent-week-4-peace_without-wordsBy Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

Reading I: Isaiah 7:10-14
Responsorial Psalm: 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Reading II: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

The time is near. Our celebration of Christmas 2016 is now just days away. Are you ready? Have you made the necessary preparations?

Can you reflect on the reality of this historic event as we imagine Mary and Joseph getting ready to make the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem? What last minute preparations did they think were necessary?

There may have been a discussion—perhaps concerned, even a little worried between the thoughtful Joseph and the soon-to-be young mother, Mary.  The caring father-guardian Joseph knew Mary’s faith was deep and strong.  He placed his trust in the goodness of the God of Life.  I imagine Joseph wore a smile as together they gathered the few things they would need for their journey.

getting-ready-at-nazareth-to-bethlehemCarefully, they placed bundles of small blankets for the infant to come (just in case).   Mary may have gathered together strips of white cloth, which would tie the coverings bringing warmth and a feeling of security to the infant.  Although Joseph was a skilled craftsman, thoughts of bringing a cradle on this trip (just in case) was not a practical consideration.

It was time.  It was time to to leave Nazareth if they were to arrive before the darkness of night.   On their journey, they met fellow travelers.  They heard talk of crowded inns, people being turned away for lack of space.   Joseph and Mary probably traveled with a bit of anxiety.

As they journeyed on, they most likely shared whatever food and drink they had with their fellow travelers.  Their thoughts and hearts turned to prayers requesting the Father to bring them to a safe haven – a place of safety, a place of peace. The Father would surely provide.

You and I live centuries from that time-honored trip to Bethlehem that changed our world and our journey in this life.  That moment in time changed everything.  The responsorial Psalm echoes what our hearts want to sing: “Let the Lord enter….”

The Gospel reaffirms the angel’s words of assurance: “Do not be afraid.”  What is your heart’s prayer for Christmas 2016?

A world at peace? A place of safety on the streets of our towns and cities?   A life journey that speaks good wishes to friends and strangers alike?

Lord, grant us all a merciful heart, a peaceful heart, and an earth honoring your Son!

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An Advent Gift “From the Heart of God”

heart-lydia-cho-rscj“From the Heart of God…” was the theme that captured the attention of nearly 80 people who gathered on Saturday, December 3, 2016, at the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart for an Advent Day of Prayer.

Mission Helper Sr. Clare Walsh, facilitator of the day, began with a quote from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” inviting us to look at where our hearts might be “two sizes too small.”  Dr. Seuss gave way to reflecting on Advent Scriptures from Isaiah and Luke, followed by Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy challenge – to enter the chaos of our world with Jesus, Mercy Incarnate.

Participants were asked to reflect on “Where in our lives is God inviting us to enlarge our hearts and to love a bigger God?” dsc_1735

The day of prayer provided an opportunity to slow down, linger, ponder, wonder…to step out of the rush of Christmas into the hush of Advent.

“From the Heart of God…” came reflection, silence, prayer, lively faith sharing, and a delicious lunch.

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Our gathering ended at 3pm with Rev. Robert Albright presiding at Liturgy during which Sr. Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH, renewed her vows.

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The Mission Helpers have sponsored days of prayer at their Center for the past 12 years. Sr. Jane Geiger, MHSH is the behind-the-scenes person that has made it all happen. Keep your hearts open for the next one…watch for the announcement.

(Heart image by Lydia Cho, RSCJ)

 

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