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Share A Cup of Hospitality
AUTHOR
Mark  »

Being hospitable can be a most challenging trait. At the Cenacle we borrow the line from the Benedictines: when a guest comes, Christ comes. The idea being that we must be welcoming and hospitable to all. It is easy to have a very narrow gate, to allow just a few worthy souls to enter and receive your hospitality, at the appointed hour; it is quite another, to have an expansive sense of hospitality, which includes the unscheduled and unexpected.

“Do not neglect hospitality,” Sacred Scripture reminds us, “for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). Again, it can be easy to prepare for the times we expect to be hospitable, when holidays approach or planned gatherings happen. This we know and thus prepare to be hospitable perhaps by cleaning up, making arrangements, by preparing gifts or food especially things our planned guests may like. It’s the unexpected, the welcoming, the hospitality at the many unexpected guests and instances where we didn’t plan to have a comfortable cup of tea ready, or our time expended in listening to another. Try as we might, being hospitable is not dependent on being proactive (though it helps to be prepared). Being hospitable is a mindset, and a choice: a choice to welcome, a choice to share, a choice to lay previous plans aside to honor, help, and welcome another whether or not they are expected. Having a hard time with hospitality? I’ve found that gratefulness is a regular companion with hospitality. Perhaps there are other ways to engender a spirit of hospitality, to encourage us to say yes, and to understand that, whether angels, persons, or Christ himself, when someone approaches us we can choose to be hospitable.

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The Son Remains
AUTHOR
Jill  »
It’s the constant rotation around the sun that offers us a delightful optimism each year. This steady orbit grants us the seasonal evolution to shape and form our most fundamental occasions. Whether it is sharing a laugh with a friend or holding the hand of someone we love-each obtained second flows into the next. The minute into the hour, into the day, and so on we find ourselves growing and maturing spinning around the sun. As the golden rays turn the leaves into various hues of chestnut and auburn; our lives also lead their very own seasons. Some seasons are transformative and some are just formative, but in due time we will be propelled into another portion of life.

 

 There is an unwavering grace in each season the Son reveals. In every unwelcome circumstance mercy and hope resides there. During the transition between seasons we must have faith and sow seeds of thanksgiving. When the nights grow longer or there is a pain from a loss or disappointment, the Son will remain. And when the days are yielding the sunlight across all spaces overwhelming us with immense joy, the Son will remain. The sun is steady but never changes, as our world transitions season to season our God the creator of all things great and small will remain.

 

Are you looking toward the Son to help transition you through your greatest and most challenging seasons in your life?

 

  

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Ah... Autumn!
AUTHOR
Joan  »

Many people look to spring as the time of new life, renewal, and emergence.  Maybe it is a carryover from my school days of many decades ago but for me the cool nights and changing leaves bring to mind the anticipation of another school year and the possibility of a new (and smarter and more popular) me! Of course this came with the anxiety of what this transition from the old me to the new me might require of the current me.

But I must say with age and the wear and tear and resiliency which inherently come with age I am finding I can still tap into that excitement and anticipation which autumn stirs in me without the anxiety. I have come to recognize that the foundation of that anxiety free anticipation is my ever growing awareness that "God has this." God is with me as I feel the pull of some new activity, person or way of looking at my life and the world.  I can enter the transitions needed to grow, adapt and prepare for the next season of my life with a hope of and faith in God's love and presence. 

Where is transition happening in your life, and how are you growing from it? For me the mystery which I can only call Grace continues to transform me from day to day.

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Heart Transformation

Whether you were watching television, listening to the radio or reading the newspaper, the question of immigration was at the forefront of our conversations for some weeks over the summer months. Since then other topics have engaged our attention and the main focus has changed but unfortunately life on our southern borders continues unchanged.

 When we reflect on it we realize that immigration has become a catalyst for surfacing the bias and/or racism that colors our attitude towards others and is present in all of us to a lesser or greater degree. It is not easy to stop ourselves from judging, putting people in boxes, attributing all kinds of motivations to them, and thinking of ourselves as far superior to anyone else.

 My fear is that now that immigration isn't the headline of the day we will have lost a golden opportunity...that of asking for the grace to move beyond our own prejudices, allowing God to give us new hearts and remove our hearts of stone. God and God alone can transform. The question is do I want to be transformed? Do I have the courage to be open to a new awareness of my own shortcomings (ouch!) and trusting enough to acknowledge that God will be at my side when I deal with my pettiness and smallness and reach out to others with a new attitude?

 I am sure that you have all experienced moments of being singled out, or witnessing injustice done either to yourself or others. I recall living in Rome and traveling with the Generalate team to visit our sisters throughout the world. Inevitably, two of our sisters, one from Madagascar and one from the Philippines, were stopped at passport control and delayed. They were always under suspicion; their passports were unduly scrutinized and they were subject to many questions before being allowed through. It was painful and it was embarrassing.

But speaking of passports let me end on a lighter note. Passport pictures are not known to be very flattering and when I myself was going through customs the agent looked at my photo and then looked at me. I returned his look and said: "Pathetic isn't it." He stared at the photo again and smilingly nodded yes. As I took my leave of him I thought he could have at least disagreed with me but then I smiled and hoped I had given him his laugh for the day.

It is never too late in life, your golden opportunity has not passed, do you want to be transformed? 

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AUTHOR
Mark  »
A change is not a transition. For instance on September 23, we had the Autumnal Equinox and seasons changed from summer to fall. The change may have happened formally, officially, seemingly at a specific minute or day, but the transition from summer to fall began well before September 23 and continues even today. The earth’s axis has been in transition and continues to transition itself and our seasons. In the North, our daily duration of sunlight has been transitioning from its peak in June through diminishment that leads up to the winter solstice. Trees do not wait for the equinox and all at once shed their leaves; trees transition like all flowers from growth, to bloom, to fade.

It is a shame, or so I believe, to equate transitions with changes. Transitions lead to changes; transitions are the little pieces that crescendo to the change, be it a season, or any other event. What helps me honor the difference between transitions and changes is being observant. Being observant helps me see the transitions around me – and in me. Being observant and seeing transitions helps me prepare for the completed transition, the change, when it arrives. The diminishing sun, the tinges of orange on otherwise green leaves helped me understand the transitioning into fall and the change of season when the time came. 

How are you observing the transitions in your life and in the world around you?

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Power of Yes
AUTHOR
Jill  »

On the first Saturday of September sisters, family and friends gathered at Chicago Cenacle to celebrate the ministry and presence of Sr. Jean Reardon’s Golden Jubilee. While preparing for her celebration, Sr. Jean opened up about the many paths she took that led her to this extraordinary moment. 

Her journey began in 1935 in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she was born. Her father who served in the National Guard in New Mexico was activated in spring of 1941 just months before Pearl Harbor.  That August, he was deployed to the Philippines and was later captured during WWII where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years. After his release and later military retirement he went on to become an educator and school principal in Albuquerque.

Jean followed in her father’s footsteps completing her studies in elementary education at the University of New Mexico. During a long layover in Chicago in her senior year of college, she thought it would be a wonderful idea to visit her priest cousin who lived in Oak Park, IL. While visiting they discussed her trip and her on campus volunteer work with UNM Newman Center. He asked if she had ever considered entering a convent, and her response was a resounding “you have got to be kidding me, NO!” After she returned to campus, she put the question out her mind but not far from her heart. While she was completing her teaching training, a friend who was a Naval Officer and member of her social sorority met her for coffee. Like most young adults their conversation was flooded with all their hopes, dreams and next big steps in life. While sharing her Naval Officer friend asked “would you consider joining the Navy?” In one breath Sr. Jean replied “No! I always swore I would never join the military or marry anyone in the military”. After being the child of a service man and having knowledge of what it entails, she decided early on it was not something she wanted for herself.

Now preparing to head into her career, young Jean soon met an officer who began teaching at the school where she was completing her teaching training.  She found herself impressed by the way the officer integrated her service experience into her teaching and brought the class lessons to life. As she taught the children how to read, the books became more than just a simplified lesson of “see dick run”, but small adventures in front of their eyes. Sr. Jean says “I knew if I wanted to be a good teacher I needed some experience, some adventure.” So, on July 1st, 1957 Sr. Jean reported to Officer Candidate School for Women.

During her 12 years of military service she remained devoted in her faith.  Jean made attending Trinity Sunday a priority, even if she was not able to make other services throughout the month. One Sunday two weeks before Trinity Sunday Jean made her way to chapel. She remembers dipping fingers into the pond of holy water, and she heard a voice say “go to confession and communion today”. “I only do confession and communion on Trinity Sunday” she said to herself. In that moment of reluctance, she knew she didn’t want to be disobedient to God’s clear direction and went on to confession and communion. That moment of hesitation gave way to spiritual conviction and she grew from it. Months later after visiting a local parish in Virginia she heard the voice again say “I want you Jean”. Overwhelmed with fear and much hesitation she started bargaining with God. “Anything but that, I will teach CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) but not that” she responded. So, she did just that! She began teaching CCD on her base, and as she rose through the ranks so did her faith.

 Jean followed her heart and in 1969 she entered the Cenacle. Sr. Jean has since worked and served in many capacities through the years from the kitchen, to treasure, to ministry coordinator. Her volunteer work allowed her to share her creativity from teaching wood shop at the YMCA summer camp, to being the sister’s in house photographer. Nowadays Sr. Jean spends her afternoons serving in the Cenacles Prayer Enrollment Office. On occasion she gifts bookmarks to the sisters and staff with images she has captured displaying the full beauty of God in this world. “When asked what has been the best part about being a part of the Cenacle for the past 50 years?” Sr. Jean replied “I enjoy the work I do, from walking alongside a retreatant to prayer enrollment, people trust us with their prayers. I believe when we hear others we hear God”. All those years ago in that Virginia parish she turned away from her call and said “no”. With an obedient “yes” later, we now celebrate her 50 years of faith. Sr. Jean continues to remain in awe of God’s grace and has learned to let go into the mystery and say yes to God’s call!

 What would "Yes" lead you to in your life?

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A VISION OF GOODNESS
AUTHOR
Sr. Rose  »

In 1866, Saint Therese Couderc (whose feast day is September 26) had a vision of the goodness of all creation. She saw the word Goodness “written on all creatures, animate and inanimate.” (Read more of how she described her experience here.

But what does it mean to have a vision of goodness? Indeed, what does it mean to be granted any kind of vision, assuming that the vision is true?

I believe that a vision is often not so much seeing something new and strange that is placed before us. Rather I think it implies the gift of perceiving more truly: that is, seeing with God’s eyes and knowing with God’s heart. And what is seen may well be something that has been with us all along, as it was with our Mother Therese. How often she had seen those ordinary “creatures, animate and inanimate”! How often she had looked at the simple chair she used for a kneeler! But now she was seeing them more nearly as God sees them. They were all good, and more, they were good because God had imparted to them something of the divine goodness.

So a vision, in this sense, does not imply seeing something that had not been there before—and even less does it suggest seeing something that is not there at all. Instead it means seeing people or things more truly—it means sharing in a small way the divine vision.

For more on vision: “Seeing with God’s Eyes

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Beautiful People

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

                                                      Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

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The Horizon
AUTHOR
Jill  »

Sometimes in life the wall feels immeasurable. When the day is so bad the minutes pass by like years. In the valleys of our daily realities we often trek further down into hopelessness. The peak just doesn’t seem attainable from this far down. “This is life”, we tell ourselves, and the pressure and pain is the process and price of living. In these winter seasons we can so easily lose sight of spring on the horizon. We have endured and conquered many valleys before. And as our faith matures with each winter season we recognize there is growth in the valley. Our healing does not begin at the summit. God is with us even when we feel He is the furthest away. There is victory in every tear we shed and heartbreak we have endured; Christ was there. With Easter Sunday drawing near let us remind ourselves, some winters may be long, but the glory of spring is on the horizon. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

 How do we endure when things seem impossibly hard?

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The Wall
AUTHOR
Jill  »

I am sitting here, searching for an inspirational way to share a story about courage. As time pass I sift through shredded puddles of collected thoughts and phrases. My pen wades in the haze of my own hesitancy. Oh yes, finally a spark of something smart. Or maybe not, just clouds where my composed reflections should be. “Writers block may have got the best of me”, I say under my breath. Should I give up? The frustration and unease of feeling” I'm no writer” lurk in. I must push past this murky wall of angst, and just try. The completion of writing something is a success, I think. And, even though it shines an enormous spotlight on my imperfections, it is not a fail I do believe. Somewhere in between the do and don’t, I land on the cliff of courage, and transcribe this climb.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to lean into courage to get you through a difficult task?

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