Like Mary, the first Missionary

In honor of today’s feast of the Visitation, I thought I would re-post this…Between all the other many tasks of this day, I haven’t afforded to think about anything else to write on, anyway.

Our Franciscan Fiat

I don’t know where I first heard it, but I know Our Blessed Mother Mary has been referred to as ‘the first missionary,’ having brought Jesus to Elizabeth and John the Baptist while He was still inside her.

r6-2I was reluctantly preparing to lead the weekly ecumenical service for our protestant residents (here at St. Anne’s Guest Home) Saturday morning.  The regular leader is out of town for two weeks and there weren’t a lot of other people jumping at the chance to take over in his absence.  Thankfully, he had prepared the ‘curriculum,’ for lack of a better word, ahead of time.  I don’t feel very comfortable doing this but didn’t want to have it fall on Sr. Elaine, who has more than enough on her plate already.

As I glanced over the chosen gospel reading for Saturday services, that of Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth, I remembered Mary’s…

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“…Greatest Possible Reverence and Honor…”

0[1].jpgAs we approach the wonderful feast of Corpus Christi, I couldn’t resist reflecting upon this awesome gift of Jesus’ Eucharistic presence!

There is so much to say: where can I begin, or end?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1324) calls the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life…[f]or in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”

Our Patron, Saint Francis, was aware of the wonder, the awesomeness, of this great Sacrament.  He writes:

  • “Let the entire man be seized with fear; let the whole world tremble; let heaven exult when Christ, the Son of the Living God, is on the altar in the hands of the priest. O admirable height and stupendous condescension! O humble sublimity! O sublime humility! that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under a morsel of bread. Consider, brothers, the humility of God and “pour out your hearts before Him.”

The Saint continues: “Do not therefore keep back anything for yourselves that He may receive you entirely who gives Himself up entirely to you.”

St. Francis sees Christ’s humility in giving Himself through the Eucharist as an inspiration for each of us.  It inspires us to give of ourselves back to him; it inspires awe and reverence.

Our Franciscan Rule, drawing from our founder’s words, expounds: “…they are to show the greatest possible reverence and honor for the most sacred name, written words and most holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things in heaven and on earth have been brought to peace and reconciliation with Almighty God.”

When we think of the humility and love of our Eucharistic Lord, how can we show anything than ‘the greatest possible reverence and honor’ to Him, present on our altars and in our tabernacles?

No wonder there are so many beautiful Eucharistic hymn helping us in our feeble attempts to praise Him!  One that comes to mind is: Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All.   (Sweet Sacrament).  Below are the lyrics.  I could write volumes more, but (especially with all the verses below), you might think I’m too long winded already.

Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all ! How can I love Thee as I ought? And how revere this wondrous gift, So far surpassing hope or thought?

Refrain: Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore ! Oh, make us love Thee more and more!  Oh, make us love Thee more and more!

Had I but Mary’s sinless heart To love Thee with, my dearest King, Oh, with what bursts of fervent praise Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing ! Refrain

Ah, see! within a creature’s hand The vast Creator deigns to be, Reposing, infant like, as though On Joseph’s arm, or Mary’s knee.  Refrain:

Thy Body, Soul, and Godhead, all! 0 mystery of love divine! 1 can not compass all I have, For all Thou hast, and art, are mine!  Refrain:

Sound, sound His praises higher still, And come, ye angels, to our aid! ‘Tis God! ’tis God! the very God Whose power both men and angels made!  Refrain:

Ring joyously, ye solemn bells! And wave, oh wave, ye censers bright! ‘Tis Jesus cometh, Mary’s Son, And God of God, and Light of Light!

O earth, grow flowers beneath His feet, And thou, O sun, shine bright this day! He comes! He comes! O Heaven on earth! Our Jesus comes upon His way!  Refrain:

He comes! He comes! the Lord of Hosts, Borne on His throne triumphantly! We see Thee, and we know Thee, Lord, And yearn to shed our blood for Thee.  Refrain:

Our hearts leap up; our trembling song Grows fainter still; we can no more. Silence! and let us weep, and die Of very love, while we adore.

Great Sacrament of love divine, All, we have, or are, be Thine!  All, we have, or are, be Thine!

 

 

Closed Ears…Open Heart

P1010005.JPGLast night, around 1:00 a.m., I wheeled a large pink suitcase into my bedroom; I was finally home!

How good it was (is) to be back in my homeland…in the United States…in the Midwest…in Grand Forks, North Dakota!  As beautiful as Germany is, and as kind as the people were, it was not home, and German is not my native language.

The nearly three weeks I spent abroad gave my a much-renewed sense of gratitude for our country and for all that is familiar to me.

This time of travelling, of celebrating our Congregation’s rich and lengthy history, has opened my heart in an unexpected way.

Ours is a community with German roots, founded in 1241, in a place I was recently privileged to visit.  However, my German is very limited.  I know some key words and phrases, but not enough to understand a lot of conversation.

Most of the Sisters we visited in conjunction with our 775th anniversary knew at least a little English.  However, the conversations inevitably switched back to their native language, German, leaving me unable to comprehend what was being said, save an occasional couple of words.

We had some of what was said (especially on tours and at official gatherings) translated, but for much of the time, my ears could well have been closed for all I could glean from the collection of foreign sounds.

This mentally straining experience of being immersed in a language incomprehensible to me was actually a fruitful one.  It opened to eyes to what other people go through.  Being in Germany as an English-speaker made me think of what it must be like for the many people who are forced to leave their homeland and immigrate to another county with a language they do not understand.

I knew that I would be returning home, to my own language and to all I hold familiar in a short time.  Many others know, in contrast, that they will never be able to return home.  How very difficult that must be!

This experience, which “open[ed] the eyes of my heart” inspires my to pray for and sympathize with the refugees of our time.  I was also reminded of our Sisters who first came to America early in the last century.  One of my travelling companions pointed out the sacrifices they made and the hardships they endured.

(To see more pictures, you can visit our album.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

Checking in and Joining in Praise

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I am presently away and have not had Computer access.  However, I wanted to let people know that this blog still exists.  However, I will not be posting regularly until after I return to Grand Forks around May 24th. 

In the meantime, I hope you find a Little inspiration from St. Francis# beautiful prayer which I will share below.

You are holy Lord God Who does wonderful things.
You are strong. You are great. You are the most high.
You are the almighty king. You holy Father,
King of heaven and earth.
You are three and one, the Lord God of gods;
You are the good, all good, the highest good,
Lord God living and true.
You are love, charity; You are wisdom, You are humility,
You are patience, You are beauty, You are meekness,
You are security, You are rest,
You are gladness and joy, You are our hope, You are justice,
You are moderation, You are all our riches to sufficiency.
You are beauty, You are meekness,
You are the protector, You are our custodian and defender,
You are strength, You are refreshment. You are our hope,
You are our faith, You are our charity,
You are all our sweetness, You are our eternal life:
Great and wonderful Lord, Almighty God, Merciful Savior.