Franciscan Sister Presents St. Bonaventure’s Cross Poem

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity provide many possibilities of continuing formation on the topics of Franciscan and Community history and heritage for our members. This summer one opportunity was an Introduction to St. Bonaventure. Sister Louise Hembrecht facilitated two sessions. She not only provided facts on Bonaventure to show he was a Theologian, Philosopher and Saint, but encouraged listeners that this thirteenth century Franciscan could be user-friendly in the twenty-first century. The Mystical writings of Bonaventure were presented as a map for growth in holiness.

In particular, St. Bonaventure’s poem on ‘the cross’ was used to begin the sessions in prayer.  Only a small portion of this inspiring piece of literature is shared here.

Follower of life’s perfection,
May your heart be ever joyful
As you see the Cross divine;
Let the Holy Cross be present
In your soul and meditation
to its rule your life resign.

Keep it close, with Christ for Leader,
Till you live in light so brilliant
That all doubt is cast away;
Weary not and slacken never,
That your heart be set afire
With a flame as bright as day.

Love the Cross, creation’s beacon;
Then will Christ become your Leader
Reign as your eternal King:
Wrap the Cross around your body:
With it, bind all; with it sign all:
Place its mark on everything.

Heart and Cross in one another!
This will keep the heart unblemished
By pervading it with peace.
Let your speech be Cross-inspired,
Praise the Cross and tell its glory,
And your song shall never cease.

Love with warm and close affection,
Sing with special praise and honor,
This salvation-bringing Tree;
With the fervor of your being,
With the sum of all your powers,
Cherish it most joyfully.

Live within the Cross so noble
And with utter exultation
Lock yourself in its embrace.
On the Cross with Christ be fastened;
Share it with Him, that in heaven
You may see Him face to face.

If you feel at home with the words above and are pondering life as a Franciscan Sister, we invite you to consider our discernment options or we’ll help you design one specifically for your needs. Click here or call or text Sister Julie Ann at 920-323-9632. We’d be happy to meet you at a coffee house near you or take time for your questions.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time

As we continue reading the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel on this Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time, we share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection August 26 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: Blessed Sacrament, Madison, Wisconsin

John 6:60-69

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Background

This is the fifth and last week that the gospel text is taken from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. The chapter began with the crowd seeking Jesus out after he had crossed the Sea of Galilee. Jesus responded to the crowd in two ways: by feeding them with the barley loaves and fish, and with his teaching. Within Jesus’ teaching they heard him claim that he was the bread of life come down from heaven, and all that that implied. But his teaching proved to be too much for them. This chapter ends in the opposite way that it began, with the crowds departing Jesus’ company. The last verses of the chapter then focus not on the crowd but on the twelve disciples and their response to Jesus’ teaching.

The text for this Sunday begins where the gospel text from last Sunday ended. Only one line is omitted, which states that Jesus was teaching these things in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6:59) Jesus has reinterpreted the “manna tradition” of their ancestors and identified his flesh as the bread from heaven that gives life. The last section of the chapter focuses on the disciples, Jesus’ own followers, and their response to his teaching. They find it hard to accept Jesus’ claim that he is the Son of Man who has come down from heaven. Jesus’ response to their difficulty is not to soften his claim or to try to make his teaching more acceptable. Rather, he confronts them with another question. If they have trouble believing that he has come down from heaven, what would they think if they saw him ascend up into heaven? It is a hypothetical question. Jesus is also suggesting that “seeing is not the same as believing.” The disciples have seen Jesus do some extraordinary things, yet they are having real difficulty in believing what he is teaching them. Faith is not natural, nor does it come easily. Some of the disciples decide to leave.

Jesus is not indifferent to their departure. He turns to the twelve and asks them what they are going to do. He asks them about their intentions. He leaves them free, not asking them to stay nor saying that they have permission to leave. Instead, he asks them what they want to do. Peter, the spokesperson, makes three statements that seem to move toward a deeper faith and a deeper commitment to following Jesus.
• “…To whom else shall we go?”
• “You have the words of eternal life.”
• “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)
Even though these three statements follow one after the other, it took the early Christians more than a generation to come to this understanding of Jesus that John recorded in his sixth chapter.

Reflection Questions

1. When I think of times in my life when I have had misgivings or doubts…
2. Have you ever felt stuck, like it was too late to start over or to try an alternative approach? What have been the blessings and the burdens of being aware that you had run out of options?
3. Jesus’ response to the murmuring of the people in today’s gospel…
4. If Jesus would turn to you and ask, “do you too want to leave,” you would respond …
5. How do you feel when people leave the church?
6. Can you talk to God now about your own struggle to remain faithful, or about those who have chosen to live without faith in God, or about some other issue that arose within you from this gospel?

Franciscan Religious Join San Xavier Mission Mary Procession

Franciscan Sister Mary Ann Spanjers shares a recent festive Blessed Mother procession at San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona.

The Sisters at San Xavier joined the Tohono O’odham as they processed up the mountain to celebrate the Mass of the Assumption at the grotto! It was a glorious day. Young and old walked with special intentions in their hearts and on their lips.

The tradition of carrying statues of our Blessed Mother to be blessed and be a blessing for the homes of their families is an inspiration.

The 98 degrees did not quelch the enthusiasm, music, singing or prayers of intercession to Blessed Mother Mary.

This was Sister Rosalyn’s first procession experience on the mountain. It was a great time to meet new people.

How Ohio Franciscan Sisters Receive a Car

Always trying to  gratefully and reverently use what we need, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity at Christ Our Light Parish, Cambridge, Ohio recently were gifted with a new car. The new vehicle provided by pastor Fr. Paul Hrezo and the members of the parish will be helpful for transportation needs of our Sisters’ ministries at St. Benedict School  and throughout the parish. Of course, it also provides for the Sisters’ grocery shopping needs, as well as attending the surrounding area’s community-wide and diocesan events.

Thank you to our Benefactor, Ruth Fox, (sister of Sr. Eloise Biedenbach), who donated her car to the St. Benedict Convent Sisters eight years ago. It has made many trips over the years. The vehicle made a great trade in and assisted with the purchase of the new car.

We pray daily for our benefactors at each meal time. This is a community practice begun early in our soon 150 year history expressing our gratitude for God-sent people in our lives.

 

Women Religious Lead Ohio Catholic School In-Service

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serving at Christ our Light Parish responded to a need for a in-service presentation at St. Sylvester’s School, Woodsfield, Ohio. Some of our Sisters call Woodsfield home. Our Sisters once served here and we were happy to serve again.

Woodsfield, Ohio was revisited by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity on August 15th., 2018. Sisters Jan Villemure, Carol Juckem, Helen Marie Paul and June Smith presented an in-service for the St. Sylvester Catholic School teachers. The topic was the Corporal Works of Mercy.

This presentation was the initial step for the school in their 6 year accreditation process for the Steubenville Diocese. The faculty and staff will use the background information, scripture, prayers, songs, U-tube clips, activities, electronic resources & ideas presented by the Sisters to set a plan for the next 6 years. The Cambridge Sisters were approached by Robyn Guiler, the Principal at the school, to do the in-service. Jane Rush, the former Principal at Cambridge, St. Benedict’s, said she thought the Sisters would be happy to help St. Sylvester.

The in-service day for the 14 teachers and staff was appreciated by both the St. Sylvester group and the Sisters. Sharing the passion for Catholic Education, commitment to student growth in the Faith and love for the teaching of the Church was very evident in the discussions. What a great way to spend the feast of the Assumption.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

As we continue to share Eucharistic Scripture texts on this Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, we share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection August 19 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photo: St. Edward Church, Mackville, Wisconsin

John 6:51-58

[Jesus said to the crowds:] I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Background

Four weeks ago the Gospel text told of the feeding of 5,000 (John 6:1-13). That event led directly to the start of Jesus’ instruction centering on the bread of life theme. Last week’s text ended with Jesus telling them that he himself is the living bread that comes down from heaven. This is also the first line in today’s gospel. Next week the gospel text will be the last verses of this 6th Chapter of John’s gospel. In that reading, some of the disciples tell Jesus to his face that this teaching is just too hard to accept, and they will no longer count themselves among his disciples. The attention John has taken to unfold Jesus’ bread of life teaching, and the fact that John tells us that some of the disciples departed because they could not accept this teaching, should indicate how important and difficult this teaching was for the early disciples of Jesus to understand and accept.

In the opening verse here, Jesus identifies himself as the bread from heaven. In the next verse he states that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has life eternal. The fact that the Jews quarreled among themselves at this statement should not be a surprise. The word that Jesus used (translated here as “eats”) would carry a sense of gnawing, as a dog with a bone. Drinking blood was prohibited within the Jewish community and perhaps among the early Christians as well. It should not be surprising that some of the Jews who heard this questioned his teaching. In John’s gospel, a question or misunderstanding usually presents the opportunity for Jesus to further explain his teaching.

Jesus explains, “… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:51) In case they missed the point, Jesus restates this point three more times (verses 53, 54, and 55). The expression “flesh and blood” would be a way to describe a human person. For those in the crowd that Jesus is addressing, the term “flesh and blood” would also call to mind the animals that were ritually slaughtered as offerings to God. Such offerings were made throughout the year, but especially as part of the Passover observance. Jesus is describing himself as the lamb that was killed and had its blood drained so that it could be used as the sacrificial offering. This same connection will be made later in John’s gospel when John places the hour of Jesus’ death at about the same time that lambs were being killed to be used as part of the Passover. (John 19:17-37)

For John’s community, Jesus is their food and drink. Because John’s gospel is the last of the four gospels to be written, the community has had the opportunity to reflect on the significance of the Jewish traditions in Jesus’ life and teaching for many decades. The experience of God feeding the Jews in the desert was a springboard to help the early Christians understand God’s new revelation in Jesus. It was not enough to believe in Jesus, or even to engage in ritual participation in the new customs of the Christian community. They were seeking to understand how God was continuing to nourish with God’s real presence on this new journey.

Reflection Questions

1. What images would you use to describe the human person?
2. How would the experience of making bread be different in the days when Jesus lived than it would be for you?
3. When they heard Jesus tell them that he was the bread of life, what layers of meaning would those people have had that would missing from most today as we hear these same words?
4. What comes to mind when you think of true food?
5. What comes to mind when you think of true drink?
6. When you hear in today’s gospel that the Jews quarreled among themselves…
7. Do you experience yourself as “being what you eat?” How would that be different for the people of Jesus’ day?
8. Can you take some time now to talk with God about whatever came to mind as you heard Jesus teaching that he is the bread of life, or that whoever eats his flesh will have eternal life?

Franciscan Calendar: Saint Roch

Our Franciscan Calendar for August highlights Saint Roch who was born an only child and whose family governed the town of Montpellier, France. A patron saint of dog lovers, bachelors, contagious diseases and those in need of healing for knees, to name a few of his often called upon areas of intercession, he was a man marked from birth with a red cross on his breast that inspired him and his devout family to grow in faith.

Why specifically is Saint Roch on the Franciscan Calendar?

At age 20, Roch’s both parents died. He was inspired to join the Third Order of St. Francis after selling all his inheritance and giving it to the poor, thus transferring ownership of the property to his uncle. This change of life indeed mirrored the Poverello. Like St. Francis who made many a pilgrimage to Rome, Roch next walked to the tombs of the Apostles.

As he arrived at Acquapendente in northern Italy about the year 1315, he found that an epidemic had broken out. Roch was quick to go to the hospital of St John and individual homes offering to help those in need. Many ill were cured at the mere Sign of the Cross which the saint made over them.

The epidemic followed him as he continued on his way. Besides visiting the holy places in Rome, Roch continued this ministry in other towns of Italy until he arrived in Piacenza. Here he became ill. Not welcome in the hospitals he once served, he found refuge in a hut outside the town. God provided food and healing through his creatures, a raven, a dog, and the dog’s owner. He recovered, returning to his home.

On arrival, his own uncle thought him a spy and did not recognize him in his current condition. Roch was imprisoned until his death. Only at this time did his family identify him and celebrate his holiness.
St. Roch, pray for us.

Blood Sisters Prepared Franciscan Sister for Religious Life

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Joanne Plain. Just like St. Clare, she was blessed with blood sisters who supported her call to religious life. To read the entire sharing, click here: Franciscan Sister Joanne Plain Reflection .

Margaret Mary Plain was born on August 23, 1932 to Frank and Gladys (Cleary) Plain in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin. Margaret Mary was baptized at Saint Anthony Church in Oconto Falls on August 28, 1932 and confirmed there on April 18, 1945 by Bishop Bona. All of her siblings were girls. The oldest girls in the family were twins. Jean died when she was 4 months old and Joan died when she was two months old. Margaret Mary was the fourth of nine children. As she wrote in a Jubilee reflection, the name Margaret Mary was never used unless she was in trouble. Her nick name was Momie.

Momie attended St. Anthony School which was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. She was impressed that a group of Sisters were always on the playground during recess playing baseball and volleyball. Momie and her sisters would help carry the Sisters’ things to the Convent in their wagon. Momie found school studies challenging. Since the students were usually in double grades her sisters would report back to her parents. The Sisters and her parents supported her as best that they could. This impressed Momie deeply.

When Momie told her Mom that she wanted to be a Sister, her Mom was reluctant. In a reflection on her vocation story, she wrote:
My mom was just like so many other moms – she didn’t want to see her little girl grow up. When still in eighth grade, I told her that I wanted to go to the Convent with my classmates, she thought I was too young. If she lived in the era of the TV hit, “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire,” I would say that she used one of her lifelines. Mom contacted her Reverend Brother who worked in the Southern Missions. He gave the decision that became my “final answer.” If I didn’t like it, he said, I could always come home.

 

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

For your prayer and contemplation, we share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection August 12 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos:  beginning of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, St. Mary Church Clarks Mills, Wisconsin

Franciscan Sisters were founded in Clarks Mills in 1869

 

John 6:41-51

The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Background

The gospel text from last Sunday concluded with Jesus making the assertion that “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35) In the verses between last week’s text and the gospel for this week, Jesus also makes a number of other bold statements, the last of which is “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (John 6:40)

The text for this week opens with the Jews murmuring against Jesus because he has made the claim that “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They seem to have taken issue with the part of Jesus’ statement that he has “come from heaven.” Some of them knew his father and mother. To them, Jesus is claiming that he is more important than they know him to be. In the United States, to come from humble beginnings and to rise to greatness is consistent with the United States being a place of opportunity for everyone. Anyone can rise from a humble beginning to be a great success in government, business, entertainment, sports, etc. The very opposite is true for the culture in which Jesus lived, where one’s family determined one’s personal worth and honor. To strive to rise above one’s birth status was looked down upon. It threatened the social fabric on which a fragile system of survival was based. The Jews’ response to Jesus’ claim was a familiar form of public debate in their time.

In the gospel text for today John connects the incident with the Exodus experience of the Jewish people by using the word “murmur.” It is the same word used in Exodus to describe the Jews complaining to God. That led to their being fed with manna. Jesus’ response to their complaint meets their challenge in a way that will either enhance his honor or that of his challengers. He too uses the word “murmur,” he reinforces the connection to Exodus, and he will draw on that Exodus experience in verse 49 to further unfold his teaching to them.

Jesus’ claims in verses 44-45 draw on the prophets who stated that it is God who must initiate the people coming to him. Therefore, if they have difficulties with Jesus, then it must be that they have a difficulty with God. They are not accepting “the one whom God has sent.” Only those whom God draws will be drawn to Jesus. Jesus has come down from heaven, and he will draw those whom God has sent to him back to God on the last day. As the text continues, Jesus makes the further claims, in verse 46, that he is the only one who has seen the Father, and finally, in verses 48-51, that he is the bread of life. Unlike the Jews in the Exodus who ate the bread that came from the sky and merely avoided starvation, anyone who eats this bread will live forever.

Those who hear this text today might assume that Jesus’ statements about being the “bread of life” are references to Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. Those that would have heard this interchange between the Jews and Jesus would not have heard these statements in that light. They would have been familiar with other places in their tradition where the Wisdom of God is presented as food or bread. (Proverbs 9:5, Sirach15: 3) Those present could have understood Jesus’ statement, in verse 51, that the living bread God gives is “my flesh for the life of the world” would mean the human body of the person of Jesus.

Reflection Questions

1. When I hear the argument between Jesus and the crowd in today’s gospel I…
2. When I think of bread, some of the things that come to mind are…
3. Do you recall people making claims of success or experiences that you found just too much to believe? How did you respond to their claims?
4. What do you hear Jesus telling you when he says “I am the living bread come down from heaven?” How do you respond?
5. What is it that you hunger for?
6. How is God nourishing to you?
7. Can you take some time to talk with God about his desire to be the bread of life for your hungers, or for the hungers of the world?

Franciscan Sisters Assist in St. Gregory Vacation Bible School

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity participated in the St. Gregory Vacation Bible School, July 28 – Aug 3, 2018, at St. Gregory Community building, St. Nazianz, Wisconsin. It was a week of growing in community and growing in faith together.

Invited for the activities, Sister Veronica Schad, Novices Sister Colleen, Sister Clare Rose and Sister Cecilia Joy entered in the theme Shipwrecked – Rescued be Jesus.

 

23 young people and volunteer leaders traveled  to different learning stations which invited everyone to enter Jesus’ everlasting love, filling them with excitement, awe, and laughter.

The hope is that the children will know Jesus and keep Him close always.