Reflective Moments Moments Reflective Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph
The purpose of Reflective Moments is to offer you a way to incorporate the spirit of Saint Angela Merici into your own lives. We hope that it enriches you spiritually.
By Sister Rita Klarer, OSU
For many years, I have felt that the three most important groups of people in the world are nurses, teachers and mothers — and actually, most women are all three in some ways. As Ursulines, we all claim two mothers in a very special way. Angela Merici, since 1535, has been “mother” to a vast assembly. We look to her, depend on her, try to imitate her as we know more about her. She is a shining example of who we hope to become. Our other mother is shared by all the people of the earth, although some may not be aware of it. For we who have known and loved her most of our lives, we sometimes wonder what Mary’s life was like. For the most important woman in the history of the world, Scripture gives us very little insight. That being the case, we are left with the option of reading between the lines — using our God-given imagination. You may rely on your own prayerful imagination — here is a bit of mine. It’s trying to picture what Mary’s life was like from the time shortly before she and Joseph were married until they return to Nazareth after their sojourn in Egypt. Now, join her, walk with her, talk to her. Mary’s early life was very simple, living with her parents in a little out-of-the-way village called Nazareth. She knew that God had promised a Messiah who would come to save them. Like most young women of her acquaintance, her fondest hope was for a good husband, a comfortable home and a family. Joseph was a good, strong man, a good worker, very thoughtful and caring. Joseph came to her parents, asking their permission to ask her to be his wife. Of course, they said “yes,” and Mary said “yes.” One morning, Mary saw the most beautiful young man. He told her that he was the Angel Gabriel, sent by God to ask her to be the Mother of the Messiah. She knew not how that could be, for she had not come together with a man. Gabriel explained and Mary gave her assent, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.” How could anyone say “no” when God asks for “yes?” Mary wondered how she could tell Joseph? So, she prayed to God to help; as always, God answered. Two days later, Joseph came running to her and said, “Mary, I know now who the Child is whom you carry. An angel came to me also, and enlightened me. I promise you, Mary, that this Child will be cared for as no other child has ever been cared for. I will protect Him with my life.” Another message came to change their lives, this time from the emperor. All males of the House of David must go to Bethlehem to register. The journey to Bethlehem was difficult, especially in Mary’s condition. Upon arrival in Bethlehem, it was late afternoon, and there was not a single room available! Finally, Joseph met a man he knew who owned a little shed outside of town. And there, out of all the people on earth, Mary and Joseph welcomed the Messiah, the Awaited of Ages, the Savior of the World! The next day, Joseph was startled to see an array of three, apparently very wealthy men, accompanied by servants, all riding camels and carrying an array of precious gifts. Joseph learned that they had seen an extraordinarily brilliant star, seeming to beckon them to find the newborn king. When Joseph heard their account, he knew they had been summoned by God. They seemed to please Jesus immensely, and Continued on back
Reflective Moments MAY 2012.indd 1
4/24/2012 10:51:17 AM
Continued from front
before they left, Jesus smiled and blessed each one. There was one more unexpected visit. This time, an angel appeared to Joseph, warning him not to return to Nazareth as King Herod was plotting to kill the infant. Instead they must go to Egypt and remain there until they were told it was safe. Mary was distraught. She yearned to see her parents, relatives and friends. But God had spoken! Now, as she pondered the events in the last eventful months, it became clear why they had been in their little shed rather than in the noisy, crowded inn. Otherwise, if the three wealthy strangers who looked like kings had ridden into the town, everyone would have crowded around them, and may never have been able to find the infant, give Him homage and present their gifts. Finally, an angel let them know that it was safe to return by the route he indicated. Mary could barely wait to show everyone what a perfect Son she had. Now, finally, Mary and Joseph could settle down in their little home. That night, Mary thanked God for all that had transpired, as she and Joseph settled down as a real family. By Sister Marietta Wethington, OSU
The Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph are celebrating a year of Jubilee. One hundred years ago we became an autonomous community, no longer a “mission” of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville. We are very grateful to the Ursulines in Louisville for their friendship and support these past 100 years. In biblical terminology, “Jubilee” is described as a “year of the Lord’s favor.” For the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, our jubilee year is a time of remembering “the Lord’s favor” to us. Some of the practices of a jubilee year are fasting, fallowness and forgiveness. We all know what fasting means, right? We deprive ourselves of something – for example, our favorite food, speaking too many words, thinking critical thoughts. We choose that from which we are called to fast. Fallowness may not be so familiar to us. It is an agricultural term that means, “to allow the land to rest.” It is based on the biblical passage, Leviticus 25, which calls the people of that day to a time of complete rest and to allow their land to lie unplanted, to re-create itself. In our personal lives we need a time of fallowness so that we may be able to listen and respond to the voice of God in our lives. This is not an easy concept in our culture so accustomed to honoring activity, productivity and hard work. We each must ask ourselves how willing we are to slow down, to withdraw a bit from all our activities, to savor the stillness and the solitude
where we find God. That is a question not just for us individually but for us communally. The time of fallowness leads us to the necessary next step of forgiveness. Ordinarily when we put Jubilee and forgiveness together we are speaking of forgiveness of monetary debt. We might ask ourselves if we have a monetary debt to forgive but most of us are more likely to be called to another kind of forgiveness. I believe we are called to look deep within our heart and soul and search for what and who it is we need to forgive. Do I need to forgive myself? Do I need to forgive another person? Am I holding on to a grudge from long ago? Do I need to forgive my parents who were unable to love me as much as I wanted to be loved? Do I need to forgive community leadership who seemingly failed to recognize my needs? Do I need to forgive a pastor or an employer who overlooked me and gave the coveted position to someone else? How willing am I to engage in the difficult, daily and lifelong struggle of forgiveness? Hanging on to resentments and failing to forgive hurts me more than the person I refuse to forgive. Fasting, fallowness and forgiveness lead us to gratitude. The Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph have so much for which to be grateful. So during this jubilee year we “sound the trumpet” of gratitude and bless each of those persons who have been a part of our lives. We especially bless our faithful and gracious God who called us by name and has been faithful to us these 100 years.
Join us as Send your prayer requests for friends and loved ones to the Email Prayer Network. we pray for Write the Ursuline Partnerships office, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356 one another! Call 270-229-2006 • Email firstname.lastname@example.org • www.ursulinesmsj.org
Reflective Moments MAY 2012.indd 2
4/24/2012 10:51:17 AM
Reflective Moments insert featured in the Ursuline Associate UPDATE newsletter