Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

(Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56)
 
My Dear Good People,
 
We begin today’s Liturgy with the procession with the palms, calling out “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
 
Within the hour we are calling out (though reluctantly), “Crucify him.”
How could such a thing happen, that people who praised Jesus on Sunday called for His death on Friday? How quickly the human heart turns from compliment to criticism, from love to hatred. What makes us do that, for indeed, had we been there two thousand years ago, we might have been among those fickle crowds….
 
It’s the human condition, we say. Human nature. Go with the flow. Follow the crowd, jump on the band wagon, do what comes naturally. And so we do. Most of us have found ourselves at one time or another contradicting what we thought we believed in, or questioning what we once saw as the truth, or turning away from the good toward what is less than good. Yes, we all have the seeds of contention deep within us, and how watchful we must be to avoid letting them rear their ugly heads.
 
This Holy Week we are called by God to reconsider just what it is we do believe in. We are invited to rekindle our faith so that the fire that sometimes burns within us becomes the constant flame of love. This week we decide, consciously, who we are and Whose we are. As we come to the end of Lent and stand at the empty tomb on Easter Sunday, we turn once again in conversion and renew the promises we have made over and over to be faithful men and women of the Gospel. It sounds easy, but it never is, really. It comes with a heavy price tag: it cost Jesus His Life to proclaim the truth. It will cost us daily as well, as we seek to see ourselves through the prism of the death of Jesus. But oh, what a reward. From Hosanna to Crucify to Alleluia. We journey together, and we pray for one another.
Have a meaningful and beautiful Holy Week.
Mother Marie Julie, SCMC

Fifth Sunday of Lent

(Is 43: 16-21; Phil. 3: 8-14; John 8: 1-11(36))
 
My Dear Good People,
 
We find ourselves only one week away from Holy Week. This Sunday is called Passion Sunday because we are so close to the precious days of the passion and dying of Jesus. In many churches the crosses and images of Mary and the saints are covered in purple, reminding us of the darkness that will envelop Jesus as He pays the price for our sins. He will be ‘taken from us’ for a moment before He rises to new life, and that moment will burn itself into our hearts with a cry for mercy—for Him and for ourselves.
 
The Gospel for the fifth week of Lent tells the story of the woman caught in adultery. “Caught in the act!” How dreadfully embarrassing for her. And then to be brought to the Rabbi Jesus for condemnation must have been even more humiliating. But there she was, standing before Him, waiting for the verdict and the sentence. What must have been going through her mind?
 
We can’t know, exactly, but we’ve all been ‘caught in the act’ of being less than we have been called to be. Through our reflection and prayer during these weeks of Lent perhaps we have found in ourselves something that embarrasses and humbles us. Has the Holy Spirit cast a light that reveals places within us that need conversion? How blessed, how privileged we are to be able to stand before Jesus at any moment and receive from Him not the condemnation that we might feel we deserve, but the words that lifted this woman from her sin to freedom: “Neither do I condemn you.” What gift for her, and what gift for us.
 
And if Jesus would not condemn her, and will not condemn us, it should remind us that we can’t be too quick to condemn others. Even when we are sure we see what we think we see in another, there are always extenuating circumstances, always more to the story. St. Julie Billiart, a gentle woman who lived during the French Revolution and suffered much at the hands of detractors, once said, “Don’t judge others. But if you must judge, then judge with the heart.”
 
Good words to recall as we begin this Passiontide.
 
God bless you with His Mercy.
Reflection by Mother Marie Julie, SCMC

Fourth Week of Lent

On the Fourth Sunday of Lent the Church invites us to hear the story Jesus tells of the son who demanded of his father ‘his share of his estate,’ left home, squandered every penny, and found himself with absolutely nothing—-except the remembrance of his father. He makes his way home sadly, all the while preparing the desperate plan he will place before the one person he knows won’t let him down—the very one he treated so badly—his father. Then Luke’s gospel (15:1-32) recounts this beautiful line spoken by Jesus: “While [the son] was still a long way off, his father ran to him, embraced him and kissed him…”
          
His father ran to him. Sometimes we might find ourselves a long way off from God, as we consider our sinfulness. Jesus tells us that in the midst of our desolation, perhaps even self-loathing, we can know that He will be waiting for our return. Rather than accusing us, He will run to us and embrace us.
           
This is a story of reconciliation that gives us the extraordinary, incomprehensible image of our merciful God who watches for the first sign of our desire to return to Him. What kind of love is this? With hope and conviction we can turn to Him in the precious sacrament of confession (now so beautifully called Reconciliation) and know we will be forgiven.
          
And, if by the grace of God we already know Him as our forgiving Father, then let us pray for souls who do not, asking for them the great grace needed to return to Him this Lent that they, like us, may experience the embrace of God’s infinite mercy. Perhaps your prayer, my prayer, is all someone needs this week to be reconciled with the Father….
 
God bless you, and may you find rest in His welcome embrace.

Third Week of Lent

My Dear Good People,
 
In today’s first reading we hear God telling Moses to remove his sandals before the burning bush in the desert, because he was “standing on Holy Ground” (Exodus 3:5), ground made holy by the presence of God.
 
Pope Francis often reminds us that we walk on holy ground, usually when he is speaking in the context of our relationship with others. If we truly believe that God makes His dwelling in our souls, then He must dwell in the souls of those we encounter in the course of our day. As we come face to face with another person, we are indeed standing on Holy Ground, in the presence of God in the other. It’s easy to think of this when we think of mother and child, husband and wife, friend and friend, but when it comes to the homeless man asking for money from us at the stop light, difficult boss asking why that project isn’t ready, teacher who doesn’t understand our child, or the driver who cuts us off on the highway, it can be a different story. It’s hard to see the presence of God in people who don’t think like we do, don’t care about our feelings, make unreasonable demands of us, or simply interrupt our already busy day. But the Holy Father reminds us to ‘take off our shoes before the sacred ground of the other.” (Evangelii Gaudium)
 
Lent is a good time to call to mind the great gift of the Indwelling Presence of God. No burning bush for us, just the knowing that He is with us at every moment of the day and night. Here’s a good prayer I’d like to share with you. I say it many times a day, and it keeps me grounded. It also challenges me to ‘take off my shoes before the other,’ that is, to respect each person because she or he is intrinsically holy—whether or not it’s obvious. After all, God asks the same of those who stand before me. 
 
Most Holy Trinity, tender Father, beloved Jesus, precious Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, present within me and in every person I encounter this day. Humbly I acknowledge that I am unworthy to be Your dwelling place, but I embrace You, and I love. Amen.
 
Mother Marie Julie, SCMC, Superior General

Second Week of Lent

My Dear Good People, as we enter the second week of Lent, we are invited to look at our relationship with God in prayer. In the Transfiguration narrative, we see Jesus taking Peter, James and John up the mountain to pray. Prayer is always an invitation that comes not from within our own hearts but from the Heart of God. “Come. Take time to be with Me. I want to transform you, whether or not you can ‘feel’ it”, He says to our hearts, and we respond. Sometimes that response simply means allowing ourselves to be led into His presence.
 
Then, Jesus Himself is transfigured before the eyes of the disciples in a way that makes it possible for them to see Jesus as God in His glory. In prayer, first we come to know ourselves in God, then we know God in us. We won’t always experience our prayer in a way as dramatic as it was for Peter, James and John in this mystery, but it is always transformative. If we are distracted, worried, or, as happened to these men, even if we fall asleep, as long as we have followed the invitation of Jesus to be in the presence of God, transformation occurs. We see God in us in mysterious ways, and, surprisingly, others will see Jesus in us! John Henry Newman gave us a beautiful prayer that reads in part,
 
“Dear Jesus, shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with will see Your presence in my soul…. Let them look up and see, no longer me, but only You.”
 
Now THAT’s transformation!
 
God bless you, and God bless your Lenten prayer.
Mother Marie Julie, SCMC, Superior General

Ash Wednesday

Greetings in the Lord! Traditionally Lent is a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare and open us to receive the wonderful graces that the Paschal Mystery of Easter brings. As we practice these holy Lenten activities, the Church provides a lively liturgy that is meant to foster and guide our Lenten practices, especially our prayer throughout the forty days of preparation.
 
The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church will be offering their reflections to you each Sunday during Lent on the readings that the Church selected for Lent 2019. It is our collective effort and way of offering our thanks to you, our friends and benefactors, for the goodness that you share with us. It is my hope that our insights offered as members of Christ’s Body be meant as an encouragement for your prayer during these special days of grace. May our Loving God lead us all closer to the Lord Jesus during this Holy Season of Lenten Renewal.
 
Gratefully yours in Mary, Mother of Our Church,
Mother Marie Julie, SCMC, Superior General

Nazareth Building Complete!

All of you know how dear to our hearts the elderly Sisters of our Community are. We are always seeking ways to improve the experience of aging for them, for they have served so faithfully in the apostolates of teaching, health care, social service and domestic work in our convents. Now they serve through the ministry of suffering, and they bring countless blessings upon the Church, our Congregation and the people whom the active Sisters serve
each day. Their prayers also follow you, our generous friends, as they are pleased to support you through the Masses, rosaries, sacrifices, holy hours,  and their personal, fervent prayers of each day. Because of their increasing needs, we felt the pressing importance of expanding and renewing the  common gathering space in our small health center.

We turned to our benefactors for help in building this addition which involved a great deal of very expensive excavation since the center is built into a hill behind our Motherhouse. It took very much longer than we hoped — a full year of designing, drilling, digging, carting, building, inspections, and, finally, decorating. But our new space, called Nazareth, is now complete! We also included an area for therapy, much needed by the wonderful
professionals who assist our Sisters after surgeries or illnesses. But from day to day, the Sisters love to gather there, to watch EWTN or Bishop Barron’s DVD’s on the big screen television, listen to music, nap, pray together or simply sit before the fire and reflect. It has become an immense blessing for our elder Sisters. Sister Bernadette says, ”I think I might forget to go to meals, it’s so beautiful here!” And Sister Daniel: “This is just the BEST!”

Advent Prayer

Lord Jesus, You have chosen to enter our lives so that we may enter the life of the Trinity. This indwelling is a gift that only Your love could have designed. From dawn to dusk, from sunset to sunrise You and the Father and Your beloved Holy Spirit live and move and breathe within us. And too often we are unaware of this mystery.
Today, on this Advent Day, we ask for one more gift of You–the grace of a continual awareness of Your Presence within us. Unworthy though we are, You have chosen us to be the Bethlehem where the world may find You, the tabernacle where our sisters and brothers may come to warm themselves in Your mysterious presence. Make us so like You, so full of the richness of Your indwelling, that people “will look up and see, no longer us, but only Jesus.” Enkindle within us a flame so tender and so bright that we may become, for all the world, a living of Your radiant beauty. Amen.

More Pictures of the Renovations!

Praise God for the warmer weather that has allowed the workmen to make progress on the Perpetual Help Center addition for our elderly Sisters. Thank you for your contribution through your prayers and financial support. We offer you our prayers and sacrifices in return for your great love. 

Update on the PHC and Novitiate Roof

We are so very grateful to all who have helped contribute to the new roof for the young sisters and to the renovations in the living area for our dear elderly sisters by your prayers and donations. The contractors will be coming soon to look at the situation with the novitiate roof. We hope to be finished with this project before the cold weather comes. The workmen are currently in the process of renovating the old building of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Center. Much has been done in the last month. Praise God for the warmer weather so that the work can progress. We thank you for your support and we promise you our prayers and sacrifices. Please check back here for updates on the renovations!

    

 

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