For Contemplation

Welcome to For Contemplation, contributions from HM Sisters meant to inspire, encourage and reflect on God's presence in our daily lives.


January 25, 2018

From Sr. Barbara O'Donnell

Earth asks:
What will I be like tomorrow?
next month, next year, seven generations from now?
I need cooperating not dominating.
I need reverence and reciprocity,
I need love - justice from humanity.

Divine Love, Divine energy, Divine Creativity is within and around us.
Cosmic energy speaks. Look up, down, around, within.
Be still - be still - be still - BE

What is wisdom and who is wise?
Not I...not I...not I

Teach me wisdom and humility.
Wisdom and humility are essential on the journey in becoming fully
human in relationship with all life communities.

Teach us wisdom and humility as we walk into the future
full of love, full of hope.

Herb Garden Tree

January 5, 2018

From Sr. Zoe Ann Reiter

Path to the Woods

The path was stony, but had a worn and comfortable feel to it, reminding me that the pebbles of life in the past have been "navigated and helped me to grow." At the entrance to the woods, I felt a distinct coolness in the air almost warning me that to go farther would be to take a definite risk. The trees in front of me formed a canopy overhead blocking the view of where the path was going, how it would turn, where it would lead me, and the perils/blessings it would hold. Yet the sun was shining brightly, inviting me to come deeper into the unknown.

December 27, 2017

From Sr. Toby Lardie

[Editor's Note: The following reflection is taken from Sr. Toby's homily reflection for Sr. Agnes Clare Snyder's funeral.]

Maya Angelou once said “People will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The two disciples on their way to Emmaus in the Gospel reading were walking along, sad and disturbed by the death of Jesus. They had already forgotten about what Jesus had said and what he did. When the stranger reminded them of these things, and when he broke bread with them and disappeared from their sight, they exclaimed to one another how the stranger had made them feel in the conversation, “Were not our hearts burning within us!”

Over these past months we have had a number of our sisters complete their journey on earth and join all the “Saints in Glory.” Their passing reminds us of so many ways that we were blessed by their presence with us throughout the years.

So how does anyone arrive to live in her 80s or 90s with such grace and wisdom? These women who gave so much in ministry to others, who shared patience and compassion with those who struggled or suffered, who taught us how to meet each day with faith and hope?

Sr. Ann Billard was here a few weeks ago and offered a retreat for sisters here at the Villa about leaving a legacy after we die. Shortly after that retreat we celebrated the life of Sr. Agnes Clare Snyder, one of our sisters who taught us many lessons that I believe she left for us. 

  • Love others – be kind and supportive – help others to feel good about themselves – and like Jesus, especially reach out to those who are struggling the most and are in need of healing.
  • Meet life as it comes –allow God to be the potter in our lives, shaping and reshaping our hearts into the beautiful person God has always meant us to be.
  • Laugh every day - So many of us remember Sr. Agnes Clare for her keen sense of humor – she made us laugh and was a person who could come back with a quip that would send everyone into laughter. A sense of humor is a gift from God, and Aggie used it well and often.
  • And finally – never stop searching for love and for those who have taught us how to love. Those who have passed from this world still walk with us, still teach us, still comfort us. Like the disciples with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, we know our hearts burn within us when we know the presence of love walking with us.

We are grateful to God for the gifts and graces that our sisters share with us in life and then leave as their legacy to us.

December 18, 2017

From Sr. Pat Fesler

[Editor's Note: Sr. Pat wrote the following reflection about the Villa.]

I heard the land tell me how precious, peaceful, and simple it is, how it journeys with new life and peacefully walks us next to the God of our/my heart. It brings me so much joy, faith. This land is not only for us but for the many that walk it and feel a Presence in the quiet. It is on this land that God opens up hearts, feeds and washes away the Pain. This land calls me/others to our center and to look deep within and experience God in all of this beautiful land. This land calls us to a future full of hope and love. Look beyond.

December 12, 2017

From Sr. Paulette Kirschensteiner

God is the Creator
we are the creatures
land, animal
earth, sky, water
all create

Let go
Imagine big

There will be change
there is change
graceful, delightful
More in faith not fear

Take care of earth and earth will take care of you


July 17, 2017

From Sr. Mary Pat Cook


i thank You God for most the amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky’ and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Was it a July day that inspirited e.e. cummings to share this poem/prayer?

Is summer God’s favorite season - when we are drawn to taking time to just be?

One author, whose name is lost in my memory, suggests that an apple ripening is a perfect model of prayer. The apple does nothing but rest in the light and warmth of the summer sun, receiving nourishment from the roots. It is in that resting and receiving that it grows to maturity – to coming to a time to let go and become a source of nourishment for another -

Can I take time during this gift season to rest in the light and warmth of God’s presence around and within me … and grow to letting go and being yes?

(now the ears of my ears awake
and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

excerpts from poem by e.e. cummings

May 24, 2017

From Sr.Barbara Wincik

In the Gospel reading for May 24, 2017 Jesus says to his disciples “I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now. … but when the Spirit comes, the Spirit will guide you to all truth (Jn. 16:12-15).”

As a Community we have completed our Chapter of Affairs and Elections for 2017. We have set our course for the next four years. The present is in front of us and the future calls us forward. The call is to continue to listen with open hearts and minds; to delve into the true meanings of collaboration and trust that the ever present Spirit will come if we listen.

But curious is Jesus words “…I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it.” When I reflect on that statement I feel how protective Jesus was of those who would carry on His mission. He did not want to overwhelm them. Instead He trusted that their experiences and encounters would open up new ways of ministering and carrying on the Gospel message. He did not hold onto the past and challenged them not to paralyze in the present. He called them forth. The choice would be theirs to listen, grow, and risk.

April 24, 2017

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I sing a song of gratitude for the call that continues to unfold within me every day,
when I am aware of God’s presence as total gift.

I sing with those who continue to teach me a new melody and harmony. I am learning to let go
and let God lead me into a future full of hope.

I sing with a peaceful heart, which comes by asking for God’s grace each day to become a
Gospel Woman.

I sing a song of lamentation for all those who are being trafficked; families being targeted in so many
war torn countries; and for those migrants who are not being welcomed as our brothers and sisters.

O Cosmic Christ, help me to continue sharing your love song on this journey
during these fifty days of Easter.

April 7, 2017

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

Colored Light Swirls

During these days of Lent, we hear the call for our hearts to be broken open and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable in God’s presence.

How can we deepen our oneness and connection with all of creation?

Entering into the Holy Mystery of God, may we see with new eyes those to whom we are called to accompany on the journey of life.

  • Refugees and those who are migrating due to violence, starvation and lack of basic resources
  • All who struggle to recover from addictions
  • Homeless youth, families and single adults
  • Undocumented immigrants living in the shadows
  • Human Trafficking victims and survivors
  • Unemployed/Underemployed Workers

March 8, 2017

From Sr.Mary Pat Cook

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert … the wilderness.Desert Landscape

He had just been baptized and heard “This is my Beloved, my Chosen One …”

In the desert, he is tempted: “If you are the Chosen One …” you can turn rocks into bread and rule the world. You can be God.

In the desert Jesus spends 40 days listening for the voice that spoke at his baptism, the voice of his God, the voice that would reveal to him what it means for him to be chosen, to be Beloved.

That is the real call of Lent. Each of us is also chosen and beloved. Each of us is called to the desert to listen to our hearts where God will speak.

At the end of those 40 days, Jesus knew that being chosen was not about turning rocks into bread. It is about listening to God … who speaks to your heart in the midst of your desert which looks amazingly like your everyday life.

February 20, 2017

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

In these times of transition, each of us are called to strengthen and witness to the values by which we live our lives. For some who are a part of a religious community such as the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, the witness of living in community is an expression of our values.candle flame

Recently in the Give Us This Day (February, p. 58-59), there was a reflection by Archbishop Oscar Romero on The Violence of Love. He speaks of the Christian community being light to give light. The community has found the truth in Christ and in his gospel and are joined together to more strongly follow the gospel. Every person is called to be light in the darkness.

Archbishop Romero goes on:

“In the group, each one finds that the brother or sister is a source of strength and in moments of weakness they help one another and, by loving one another and believing, they give light and example. The preacher no longer needs to preach, for there are Christians who preach by their own lives.“

Pause and thank God for the way your life is light and “preaches” the message of the gospel.

February 6, 2017

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

As we deepen the life of God within us, we know that words such as “listening to the voice of God”, “contemplation”, “reflection”, meditation and other words and practices are familiar to us.

Poetic graphic about restIn the February issue of Give Us This Day, James Martin, SJ, stated, “Of course any time spent in God’s presence is transformative, because God is always nourishing our hearts, soothing past hurts, and strengthening us for whatever awaits us.” He asked his disciples to “come away and get some rest” (Mk 6:31).

As Sisters of the Humility of Mary, along with all the People of God, we look forward to our future to seek and know to what God is calling us. We strive to respond to the needs of those who are poor in our present day. The challenges before us are great, beginning with a current one of welcoming the stranger (Mt. 25:35) and caring for those most in need (Mt 25:40).

James Martin continues, “So why not hear Jesus’ invitation addressed to you, today, wherever you are. Can you come away from your busy life and “rest a while” in his presence? He’s waiting to meet your there.” To what is God calling you?


January 17, 2017

From Sr. Toby Lardie

In the midst of winter’s cold, it appears that very little is happening with the bare trees and fields covered Snow covered bridgewith snow. Yet, we know that each year, the dying around us is precisely what opens up a space and energy for the new life that will show forth in the springtime. 

As the world and institutions shift around us, as a new government moves forward with plans and agendas, as challenges confront us at every level of society and church, we also find ourselves individually and communally part of the changing landscape. When we enter into the New Year, we must say goodbye to the old without knowing what the new is that will reveal itself. 

As religious women, we have been looking at various aspects of the Villa in light of changes in the community demographics, sponsored ministries, the needs that our elder sisters have for health care and the needs of our ministries. We have now entered into a planning process which we are calling Pathways to a Future Full of Hope. The purpose is to help free the Congregation and its membership more fully for mission.

We are in the midst of gathering data, doing assessments and studies, and asking the difficult questions. We will be called upon to make some concrete decisions that will require courage and vision.  For the most part these concrete realities are external, but they demand a deep inner reflection and discernment for all of us, both as individuals and as a community. Mark Clarke, of Community Works, Inc. said it well in a recent article:

The collective soul journey of the pioneer community is a profound journey of radical detachment, of saying good-bye to existing understandings of religious life and opening the communal soul to a yet unknown future. For this to happen, it is to allow the spiritual invitation to intensify the call to both individual and community holiness. Thus, the heartfelt pilgrimage is to support and nurture the sacredness of each member while seeking a common vision and a unified heart. In many ways, this is symbolic of our evolving global society. (“Leadership in a Pioneer Community: Tending the Fires of the Collective Soul.” October 2016)

As the snow covers the land and the cold swirls around us, let us take the opportunity to enter into those inner spaces where our lives are nurtured and energized for the growth that is required of us as we move forward together in hope.


January 1, 2017

From Sr. Toby Lardie

As we begin a new year, there are many thoughts about what 2017 will bring. Perhaps we enter this new time with trepidation, knowing now what we could not have known a year ago at the beginning of 2016 – that so many things would be turned upside down in our world: a turbulent US election, Great Britain leaving the European Union, shootings and massacres, worldwide terror attacks, death and destruction in Syria and other tragedies and difficulties in our families and local communities. Yes, we might feel trepidation as we enter into another new year. 

But a new year also brings new possibilities and opportunities, and so it is a season to dream and to hope. In a recent publication, the LCWR Presidency and staff spoke about what is most needed at this time:

“Now is the time to heal the deep divisions laid bare by this bruising political campaign and to tear down the walls, real or imagined, which divide us by gender, race, class, geography, lifestyle, political party and belief. This moment, these times, require us to engage in deep contemplative prayer and to risk courageous action for the sake of all who call these United States their home.

Now is the time to make space in our hearts and our homes for the needs and concerns of all God’s people, the undocumented mother, the unemployed steel-worker father, and those children and elders consigned to live in poverty. It is long past time to make room in our politics for those who have been disaffected, disenfranchised, and discarded.”

Our Mission urges us to continue to bring more abundant life to God’s people, to be women of the Gospel, bringing light and hope to all we meet. Let us move confidently into this New Year, for God who is mighty has done great things for us.


December 23, 2016

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

“There were shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night” Luke 2

This passage that we hear during the Gospel narrative on Christmas night speaks of how “Emmanuel” chose the shepherds who were on the peripheries, to proclaim the good news of the birth of Christ.

I was blessed to visit sheepherders in Colorado in 2011 to listen to their stories and hear about their many challenges.
 I was so taken by their dedication to their sheep and I learned so much about what it means to be a shepherd.
So as we listen to the unfolding story of the incarnation, let us listen and reflect upon those who
 have proclaimed the good news to us and be deeply grateful for their witness that our God is with us.

Shepherds following star


December 8, 2016

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

Love has the power to transform us beyond the limits of our imagination.
Love can create in us a universal heart that can embrace those who are different from us.
Love has the power to stretch our hearts and free us from the boundaries of hate, anger, prejudice and racism.
Love enables us to create new life.
Love is the force that calls us to commit ourselves to care for this earth and the underserved and forgotten.
Love transforms the betrayals, the hurts, the wounds that touch our families, neighbors, nation and, even our enemies.

~John Foley, SJ

During these Advent days, let us listen, pray and lament
in solidarity with those who are forgotten throughout our world.

Earth from space


November 21, 2016

From Sr. Toby Lardie and Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.   (1 Thess 5:18)

This month of November brings us several annual themes. Every year at this time we are invited to remember those who have gone before us as we celebrate the cloud of witnesses from our families, sisters, and friends who now rest in peace with God. In these past two weeks we have also commended two more of our own to eternal life, Sisters Noreen and Consolata. We have shared stories and listed their many accomplishments and we have met people whose lives they touched during their earthly journey with us. We have been deeply blessed by their lives and can trust that they will continue to intercede for us.
           Who are the people who have touched your life?
           Whose lives have you touched by your daily faithfulness?

November is also marked by local, state and national elections, and we have witnessed a particularly violent campaign with protests that continue across our land.
           How will we offer the witness of our lives in these trying times?
           How will we stand as people of nonviolence and peace?
           How will we model what we desire to see?

And perhaps most importantly, November is a month for giving thanks for all we have received, for the abundance that God pours out on us - for family, for community, for the gifts we are to one another, for the resources available to us. Like Mary in her Magnificat, may our souls proclaim the greatness of God, because God has done great things for us, and holy is God’s name.
           For what in your life are you most grateful and in your gratitude you proclaim God's greatness?  

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving!


November 4, 2016

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

As citizens of the universe, we acknowledge our participation with all creation in the evolution and growth of the reign of God. (Living Document)

Since Chapter 2013, we have taken time to grow in our role as "citizens of the universe" so as to bring about the reign of God. This month of November allows us to call to mind the many un-named saints who have shown us how to bring about he reign of God in practicing the works of mercy. While each of us have done this in different ways, Pope Francis suggests yet another practice when he speaks on the World Day of Prayer for Creation 2016. He integrates our role as citizen of the universe into the Year of Mercy:

"A new work of mercy:  The Christian life involves the practice of the traditional seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy.[10] “We usually think of the works of mercy individually and in relation to a specific initiative: hospitals for the sick, soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, schools for those to be educated, the confessional and spiritual direction for those needing counsel and forgiveness… But if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces.”[11]

'. . .Everything it embraces' includes care for our common home. So let me propose a complement to the two traditional sets of seven: may the works of mercy also include care for our common home.

As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a 'grateful contemplation of God’s world' (Laudato Si, 214) which 'allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us' (ibid., 85). As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires 'simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness' and “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world' (ibid., 230-31)."

Allow yourself time for "grateful contemplation of God's world".

Ponder "simple daily gestures" of care for our common home that you wish to include in your life.


October 15, 2016

From Sr. Mary Pat Cook

A rooster singing in the valley of death

“The only sound we could barely hear was every once in a while a rooster singing in the distance. The Rooster in the yardsinging of the rooster reminded me of the Gospel of the Passion when Peter has his conscience awakened after his denial of Jesus, and how in a disaster like this our consciences cannot remain asleep.

In front of such devastation, the question often is “Where is God?” Probably the same question haunted Peter when he saw Jesus arrested and sentenced to death. It’s easy in front of such tragedies to find refuge in the answer that God is not there. Meanwhile, the truth is that in these moments God is really facing us, looking us in our eyes and questioning, ‘Where are you?’”

These words from Fathers Rick Frechette and Enzo Del Brocco, Passionist priests ministering in Haiti, reflect their experience of an 18 hour journey to help those in areas most impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

“Where are you?” Contemplation calls us to look lovingly on reality – whether it’s Haiti or North Carolina or the violence in our streets. At times all I can do is to hold that reality in prayer – and let the silence lead me to wake up and respond to the God of Love who is facing me with that question. Do I have the courage to listen for my own response – and to live it?

Quote from Fathers Rick Frechette and Enzo Del Brocco
St. Luke Foundation for Haiti and Passionist Haiti Mission, Our Mother of Sorrows


October 1, 2016

From Sr. Mary Pat Cook

Tree against night sky with quote

During a workshop I attended last spring, Carol Zinn, SSJ drew laughter from the group when she spoke of her effort to watch and listen to the presidential candidate debates from a contemplative stance. She acknowledged that she found it a challenge.

In these recent weeks, her words have resurfaced as an invitation to try to look lovingly at the reality that is our political environment in these pre-election days. Regardless of who one’s preferred candidate is, it is easy to join the chorus of ridicule, sarcasm, disrespect.  

Recently LCWR (the Leadership Conference of Women Religious) sent a letter to each of the four U.S. presidential candidates asking them “to engage in political dialogue that reflects the principles and values upon which this nation was founded.” Almost 6,000 sisters signed this call for “civility in our discourse and decency in our political interaction that promotes the common good, reaches out to others, engages in constructive dialogue, and seeks together the way forward.”

As I reflected on Carol Zinn’s experience and the LCWR letter, I began to question my own rhetoric.  Am I contributing to the violence of the dialogue? How do I engage these days with a contemplative stance?  Am I willing to step back, to listen deeply … without judgment … in a spirit of openness and curiosity … to hold each person in love. Am I willing to look deeper for a truth that may surprise me – and to share what I see recognizing it as part of a bigger whole?

In her address to the LCWR Assembly this past August, Pat Farrell, OSF reminded us that “The deep quiet of contemplation can bring us face to face with our own negativity and resistance, which when not rejected, avoided or denied can be privileged places of encounter with the Holy One. It can be transforming to simply be present without judgment to what feels far from anything wholesome or holy.”

The LCWR letter closes with an invitation to each of us as citizens and people of the Gospel: “Let us engage in careful listening and honest questioning. Let us honor the dignity of those with whom we disagree and treat them with the respect that is their God-given right.”

LCWR Letter


September 9, 2016

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

One of the most subtle changes that signal the arrival of fall is the change in the shadows. There is a difference in how the light is reflected off the leaves. The morning darkness lingers and the evening sunlight quickly fades. There are different evening sounds as the crickets and Katydids sing in unison with a cacophony of notes.There is mystery enveloped in these changes. In a month or so those sounds and the light will change again. There will be a rustling of leaves as they fall to the ground leaving branches naked and exposed to the elements. The night creatures will no longer sing.

And so we wander into another season, another stage of life, or another journey. What is there to learn, to see, to listen too, to ponder, to reflect?


August 26, 2016

From Sr.Mary Pat Cook


At the national assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in early August, Sr. Pat Farrell, OSF, a past president of LCWR, shared her reflection on Contemplation and Transformation. Pat characterized contemplation as “the way we become available for the in-breaking of the reign of God. … the reign of Love.” She recalled several of Jesus’ images for the reign of God, one of which is the treasure hidden in the field – the treasure for which we sell all to buy the field.

We are drawn to that treasure, to the field, to Holy Mystery. We are drawn by the God within who yearns for us even as we yearn for the One with whom we are already one.

Pat noted that reign of God asks for everything. We are not the ones who decide what the “all” is that we will “sell.” We don’t need to go looking for what to let go. “Selling all” is a purification process that will find us!! It will come through contemplation, through life, through suffering and love. And – if we allow it – it will open us to the Infinite One we seek. It is gift – and it is God who is the Giver. We are called to focus, not on the “selling” but on the in-breaking of God’s reign that now has space to grow in our field.

Can I let go of what I thought were treasures? Can I begin to see with God’s eyes – to recognize the real treasure? Can I allow life  to open the space I need to receive the gift God is trying to give?

Quotations from Pat Farrell, OSF. Leading from the Allure of Holy Mystery: Contemplation and Transformation. Available at


July 15, 2016

From Sr. Toby Lardie

This morning’s Gospel is the well-known parable of the sower scattering seed. (Matthew 13:1-9)  Jesus talks about some seed that fell on the path where birds ate it; other seeds fell on rocky ground where it had little soil and didn’t grow well. Still other seeds fell among thorns where they grew and were choked out. But some soil fell on rich soil where it grew and produced fruit in abundance.

I write this reflection at a time when our nation and world struggle with so many events of violence, chaos and utter confusion. People’s very real needs and the common good have taken a backseat, it seems, as words of accusation, blaming, and misrepresentation are often used as weapons. Our social media often latches on to sensational statements and flings them into cyber-space letting them continue to wreak havoc.   

I am reminded of a small book, The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz. The first agreement isBe Impeccable with your word.” In the short chapter the author outlines four characteristics of what this means:

  1. Speak with integrity.
  2. Say only what you mean.
  3. Avoid using your word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
  4. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and of love.

This relates, I believe, to our HM Living Document that declares: “As Gospel Women, contemplatives in action, we live compassionate justice and courageously speak the truth.” Each one of us has the power to sow the seeds of our words in the rich soil of truth and love. May all we say be a means of radiating love out to each other, our neighbors and our world.


June 1, 2016

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

It is almost impossible

to overestimate the value of true humility

and its power in the spiritual life.

For the beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness

and the consummation of humility is the perfection of all joy ….

In perfect humility all selfishness disappears.

-Thomas Merton

Selfishness; just what is selfishness? Webster’s Dictionary has several definitions; 1: Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or well-being without regard for others 2: arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others. The third definition is my favorite; being an actively replicating repetitive sequence of nucleic acid that serves no function. So in essence I suppose selfishness is a disregard for another because of my perceived needs. 

To put another spin on the concept; unless I do my own inner work I may be blinded to my own actions of selfishness. Without looking at the motives for my actions, I can become absorbed completely in my own world.

Living humility challenges me to look at the truth of who I am called to be in this life and to develop an awareness of the purpose my actions and reactions. This is no easy task because I am part of the human condition complete with blessings and warts. The journey keeps me grounded and real.

May 15, 2016

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into

a particular route’

and make a beaten track for ourselves …

The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of [all];

and so the paths with which the mind travels.

How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world,

how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!

- Henry David Thoreau

As I reflected on the words of this poem I thought of them as metaphor for Change. How ingrained we become with the same thoughts, rituals and behaviors. How little do we allow ourselves to stretch, to reach out beyond our protective coatings! How fearful it is to think of any change that may cause an upheaval in our secure worlds.

And yet we are called every day to traverse beyond that which keeps us traveling the same old path, kicking up the same dust and making the ruts deeper. Let us challenge each other to see new things, new possibilities, new life and new adventures. Let us be open in mind, heart and spirit.

May 1, 2016

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a close friend’s son’s wedding. I have known this family for a long while and have watched their four children grow through the turmoil of the teen years, as each struggled through various milestones. I have listened to my friend’s discouragement, anger, concern, and care as she and her husband struggled through those milestones. In fact it was like watching the evolution of chaos swirling around, having moments of calm only to be disturbed again by some known or unknown accelerant.  As her husband reminds me, “you have become a member of the family”.

But as I drove the four hours home I began to think about the marriage feast at Cana. Although Jesus performed the miracle of water into wine I thought about the miracles that took place during my friend’s son’s wedding. First was the relationship between himself and his bride. An eight year relationship that has transcended fears, physical problems, the bride’s parents’ divorce and the normal relationship issues that creep into our human lives. In spite of all of this, there is a love and respect that has grown between these two young adults. They have a balance that will be challenged as they grow together.

Second is the celebration; of seeing old friends; watching the crowd honor and make the happy couple the center of the celebration; watching how gracious the newly married couple greeted those in attendance as they stopped at each table; and the balance they maintained being with their peers and greeting others.

Third is the coming together on the dance floor; the celebrating crowd, keeping in synchrony with the music; a common bond. It did not matter if you knew the steps or not but you were accepted into the circle.

Fourth is the ending song Piano Man (Billy Joel). During the song my friend quietly began to pull back those on the dance floor to form a circle leaving the married couple alone in the middle. As we in the outer circle swayed with the music, the couple attentive to each other slowly glided, sweeping side to side. How endearing and memorable!

As I drove home reflecting on this event the sense of community became clearer. This young couple set the tone. To gather friends and family members of all ages to come together, to participate, witness and celebrate this young couple’s commitment to each other is not as easy as it may look. There were relationships not only with family and peers, but with their parents’ friends. How significant to be able to relate to all ages with respect and gratitude.

I saw the miracle that comes with lasting and true friendships. I saw the reflection of parents’ values reflected in their children even though at times parents wonder if they have made an impact. I saw Jesus’ miracle in a different light. Jesus was attentive to the community and even though He resisted his mother request he listened. That is the miracle to be able to listen to the needs of the community and move forward.


April 15, 2016

From Sr. Mary Pat Cook, LCWR Reflective Journal 2015

I’ve spent a lot of time with Peter recently. Peter, who gets it, and doesn’t, who jumps in and runs away. Impetuous, enlightened AND clueless, often in-the-dark Peter. Two of his encounters with Jesus capture their relationship – and mine?

During that scary storm,

Peter initiates: “If it is really you, tell me to come to you across the water.”

“Come!” Jesus said.

Peter jumps in – with enthusiasm, energy, trust! (I’ve been there!)

reality engulfs him – literally.

What seemed so clear,

so enticingly adventurous,

so God’s will

is lost

in a sense of drowning,

of darkness,

of absolute fear. (I’ve been there!)

“Why did you doubt?”

No answer.                                                     

Is Peter now doubting his commitment,

his trust in this One he claims to love? (I’ve been there!)

Later comes breakfast on the beach …

This time Jesus initiates: “Peter, do you love me?”

“You know everything. You know well that I love you.”

Is it Jesus who needs to hear Peter’s answer?          

or Peter? (I’ve been there!)

In this Resurrection moment, does Peter hear himself (his true self)?

“Lord, you know everything.

You know

I love you.”

(I am here.)



April 1, 2016

From Sr. Mary Pat Cook

Easter happened last weekend, and already we’re living off leftovers. We have returned to our routines, and locked ourselves into familiar patterns as the disciples locked themselves behind closed doors. It is good news indeed that there is no hiding from the Risen One.
-Bruce Sanguin, If Darwin Prayed

It is so tempting to look at the Easter Christ with eyes focused on divinity. Surely this rising from death is an act reserved for a god.

As we hear the stories – beginning with the women, of course – the faithful women – something beautifully human emerges. It’s not the divine we see. This Risen One is VERY human.

He greets Mary Magdalen wandering dazed in the garden, calls her by name, aches for her to recognize him. He joins Cleophas and his companion (his wife?) leaving Jerusalem and on the road to Emmaus. They walk together and talk of all that has happened. He accepts an invitation to supper and he eats with them. He enters the locked room where the disciples are gathered and asks Thomas to touch him.

This Risen One engages with his friends, eats with them, seeks their touch, their love and faith. He is VERY human.

There is no hiding from this Jesus, this Christ. He initiates each encounter … and in each he draws these disciple-friends to believe not only in him but in themselves, in a new life that will be theirs. He empowers them (and us) to let go of the humanity they (and we) have known - to embrace, to proclaim a new way of being VERY human, to recognize the divinity inside each of us. A call to evolution before the word was invented.

What is there to do but sing ALLELUIA!

(photo by Sr. Toby Lardie)


March 15, 2016

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

         For openness to the mysterious ways in which God is revealed to us…..

As I was listening to this General Intercession during a Sunday Liturgy, I thought of all the companions on the journey who have been a mysterious revelation of God.

In my volunteer ministry with a human trafficking coalition, I met a man who was sex trafficked as a young child at age 8. He was taken off the playground at his elementary school. Eventually he found a way to escape and was returned to his family, but he never got the counseling and support he so needed to overcome this traumatic experience.

When I met him in his late 30’s on a cold winter day, he was homeless and living in his car with his dog. He wanted to join our coalition to advocate for other human trafficking victims even though his health was greatly compromised. We have kept in contact over the years by phone and email as he moved to other states continuing his journey. It never fails that when we talk, he asks me the deepest, most profound questions about my faith, God, and my vocation. I am deeply grateful for our conversations and the insights that I receive from this companion on my journey.

      May we never limit God in our lives but be open to the surprising ways God is with us.


March 1, 2016

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

During these days of Lent, we ponder what to let go of that hinders us in deepening our connection with our God and the world. We acknowledge that all things are possible if we open our inner selves to the new. Springtime teaches us that each moment is a threshold for something new being born. How can this season of Lenten grace be a time of more abundant life? The Holy Spirit is particularly active in times of transition and openness.

“When paradigms collapse, the only creative thing to do is to let go, so that free space is created for the new to emerge. The letting go is difficult, since, among other things, not all of us are aware of the death of our primary paradigms at the same time and, therefore we keep holding on; we keep looking through outdated lenses and our vision becomes blurred. We keep looking for the living among the dead and, as a consequence, the resurrection escapes us.”

-Barbara Fiand, “Refocusing the Vision: Religious Life into the Future”


February 15, 2016

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

Come back! Return to your God. Hosea 14

We hear it every Lent. What are you giving up for Lent? Growing up it was either a television program or candy. But then we didn’t count Sunday as a day of Lent so the fast from candy was short lived. Now as we have transcended the days of youth or merely put them on hold what is our attitude toward the season of Lent?

Remember that Jesus fasting for 40 days in the desert being tempted by evil. And what evils tempt us doing these 40 days (most days really)? Or have we walked away from the concept of temptations and the presence of evil?  Maybe Lent means not so much giving up something but challenging ourselves to change something in our lives, relationships, attitudes or living situations. Maybe we need to mend a relationship or break an unhealthy habit. Maybe it means even forgiving ourselves.

But however you choose to be aware of Lent and incorporate the message; God is always in our lives and waits patiently.


February 5, 2016

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

I am amazed at the days in February we are celebrating something ‒ everything from National Pancake Day to National Sleep Day. Oh I forgot Valentine’s Day. Probably the most noteworthy is the celebration of the 49th anniversary of the Beatles coming to the United States. But I am dating myself on that one.

Seriously, the month of February focuses on Black History. How much we can learn from those of color and all they have given to this nation; and at times with no credit given to their literature or inventions or public stances. I was touched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day hearing his voice during his “dream” speech on a recording, once lost and now found. Here is an excerpt that carries much meaning for the times we are currently living.  

We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. Every man lives in two realms, the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals and religion. The external is that complex of devices. And in the hearts of men, we will come to that great and glad day when men all over the world will be able to join hands, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, Hindus and Muslims, and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, free at last, free at last. Thank God all mighty, we are free at last.

Do we continue to look the other way, to say “what can I do?” or ignore the gifts that God has given us through others without discriminating the color of skin, religious background or ethnic background? We have many challenges before us as people of God. The road to freedom that King speaks to is not an easy one. It calls us to open our awareness, our understanding and our hearts.


January 18, 2016

From Sr. Toby Lardie

Although we have not seen quite as much snow or the cold that January usually brings in our part of the world, we definitely know it is the season of winter as we keep our doors and windows tightly closed to keep out the cold. Nature has a way of pulling back and deeper into herself with fewer hours of daylight, cloudy skies, hibernating animals, and the bare trees. Our world not only looks and feels different, but it also sounds much quieter. A silence settles in, the silence of nature at rest.

In these days my mornings can be filled with checking weather reports, grumbling about putting on the extra layers of clothes to face the cold, and wondering what the roads will be like to drive. The silence that settles into nature also invites me to enter into a different space, the invitation to slow down inside, to breathe more deeply, to listen more. It's an invitation for all of us to enter into that winter silence, to allow God's spirit to breathe and whisper inside of us.

We call ourselves to be Gospel women, contemplatives in action. What does this time of winter offer to teach us about the contemplation that is so necessary for effective action? Mark Clarke speaks about this in his article, "Envisioning the Future of Religious Life as a Pioneer Community.")


Contemplative silence is important

because in the personal and collective stillness

people connect to their heart and deeper aspirations.

This quiet allows the charism to be open in new ways

and illuminates new possibilities for being on mission.

In addition, in the silence the individuals and community

can open their heart to the invitation of the spirit.

This openness strips away the barriers that need to be taken down

in order to create the space to risk the new.

This path is both an individual and collective walk.


Let us not miss even one day of the opportunity to allow winter to draw us deeply into the silence where God is speaking to us.


January 1, 2016

From Sr. Toby Lardie

I am not a big fan of New Year resolutions. I used to make them, keep them in earnest for about five days and then never think about them again. I think it might have happened that way because they weren’t about important things, things worth changing your life for. But in today’s context of gun use and growing violence in our neighborhoods, fears about terrorism, political candidates bashing one another, and growing distrust with our institutions (i.e. finances, health care, and education just to name a few) I read something that I thought would make some good resolutions for the New Year. It is a poem by Meg Wheatley and I offer it for your reflection as we begin the wonderful gift of a New Year!

"Turning to One Another" by Meg Wheatley

There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Ask, “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?”  Keep asking.
Notice what you care about.

Assume that many others share your dreams.

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.

         Talk to people you know.
         Talk to people you don’t know.

         Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear.

         Expect to be surprised.
         Treasure curiosity more than certainty.

Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
         Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.

         Know that creative solutions come from new connections.

Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.

Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.

Rely on human goodness. Stay together!


May you be blessed as you embark on the adventures awaiting you in this New Year!


December 15, 2015

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

forcontemplation   “The wolf shall live peacefully with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the yearling, will rest secure with the lion; and a little child will tend them all.” (Is. 1: 6)

“For to us a Child will be born. To us a Son will be given. And the rule of the nations will be on His shoulders. His name will be called . . . Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6).

How our world yearns for PEACE! And we are about to celebrate once again the coming of the Prince of Peace. What does that mean to us who live in the midst of a world torn by suffering, violence, prejudice, poverty?

An Advent Reflection by Henri Nouwen on “Making the Vision Come True” offers each one of us some simple answers as to how we, in our individual lives, can bring about PEACE in our world.

“The marvelous vision of the peaceable kingdom, in which all violence has been overcome and all men, women, and children live in loving unity with nature, calls for its realization in our day-to-day-lives.   Instead of being an escapist dream, it challenges us to anticipate what it promises.

Every time we forgive our neighbor, every time we make a child smile, every time we show compassion to a suffering person, every time we arrange a bouquet of flowers, offer care to tame or wild animals, prevent pollution, create beauty in our homes and gardens, and word for peace an justice among peoples and nations we are making the vision come true. 

We must remind one another constantly of the vision. Whenever it comes alive in us we will find new energy to live it out, right where we are. Instead of making us escape real life, this beautiful vision gets us involved.

In what situations do you observe the “lion and lamb” living peacefully? How will the Prince of Peace manifest himself in your actions this Christmas season?  May the Prince of Peace fill you with Peace during this blessed season of Advent and Christmas! 


December 1, 2015

From Sr. ​Mary Pat Cook

One definition of contemplation is “to take a long, loving look at reality.” Possibly the earliest recorded moment of contemplation occurred at the instant of creation, reflected in the first chapter of Genesis. It is there we read that God took a long, loving look at creation “and saw that it was good.”

Paul called the Colossians to contemplative moments like that: “Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness,” he said. “Sing gratefully to God from your hearts.”

As life swirls around us this week …

with news of terror and violence

interrupted with commercials for Black Friday deals …

let’s listen for the presence of God

in the daily acts of courageous peace, ordinary love, quiet beauty,

in the joy and suffering, laughter and love of family and friends.

And let us take time to look lovingly at the reality of our world …

to see the good that God sees.

Let us dedicate ourselves to thankfulness and sing a song of gratitude.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

Meister Eckhart


November 1​7, 2015

From Sr. ​Mary Pat Cook

I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (to the full, til it overflows) 

John 10:10

Over these past few days – and weeks – we have been filled abundantly with images of Paris, Syria, the streets of Cleveland … and if we look deep enough there are similar images of Beirut, South Sudan, the deserts of our border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. What seems to be overflowing is not life, but violent death.

Where is our God of abundant Life?

In one of her songs, Jan Novotka voices God’s response: “I’m right here in the pain. … Abundant Love is flowing there.” Difficult to believe.

One national news interview was with a young man who lived near the restaurants targeted in the Paris violence. He said he was not a doctor or health care professional. He couldn’t fix anything or anyone. But he felt a responsibility to be there. He sat with individual victims, just holding them, touching them, letting them know they were not alone … just being there.

God right there in the pain … Abundant Love flowing there.

Sometimes our experience of God is that … of just being there, of holding the evil and the pain in love.

NOTE: For another reflection on these recent news events, visit for Jan Richardson’s Blessing in a Time of Violence.



October 7, 2015

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

There is a stanza in Psalm 51 from the book Psalms for Praying by Nan C. Merrill that goes like this:

You have placed Your inner truth

in the inner being;

Therefore teach me the wisdom of the heart.

Forgive all that binds me in fear,

that I may radiate love;

Cleanse me that Your light

might shine in me.

Fill me with gladness; help me to

transform weakness into strength.

Look not on my past mistakes

but on the aspirations

of my heart.

This continual search of going deeper into prayer, searching for “inner truth” is a challenge and calls us to look at ourselves as we have never looked before. Transforming these fears takes time and periods of prayer. Facing fears would be easier if we could eliminate them as in a video game. We could then move to the next level. But it’s a journey of chance. When we think we have gained the most we find ourselves regressing to the beginning. But we do gain a step forward because now we are aware of that which holds us back. We find ourselves asking for forgiveness and asking to acceptance that we are as reflections of God’s image. What an awesome, spirit filled adventure into the realm of mystery and our “inner truth.”


October 1, 2015

From Sr. Toby Lardie

How quickly the summer has passed! Now we are into autumn, a time of many changes in the world around us. I love this time of the year, noticing how the air begins to get cooler, and the long daylight hours switch over to longer nights and shorter days. The colors begin to slowly start to change, and then it seems it speeds up until the world explodes in so many vibrant yellows, oranges and reds. One of the biggest changes, of course, is the leaves falling from their branches until the trees are quite bare.

This annual event of falling leaves has been a curious thing for me. I noticed that only the leaves that have been alive will drop off the trees. Leaves that died over the summer will often stay on the tree all the way through the winter. But for those leaves that have been alive all summer, what makes them let go of the branch? Do they just lose their connectedness and simply fall?  Are they “pushed” off when it is time? I like to think they “jump” in total surrender when the time is right.

These outer changes are quite dramatic each fall. But do they echo the inner changes in each one of us? This season is an invitation for us to consider what has been happening in our own interior life over these past months and now. As we watch the harvest of the fields, what gifts of abundance do I recognize in the harvest of my own life? So many people are sharing the tomatoes and zucchinis from their gardens. What fruits in my life am I sharing with others? And as I watch the leaves begin to fall, what are the things in my own life that I am invited to let go of so that new life can come when it is time.

 “We need an open mind to see the world with renewed eyes and not to cling to

old ways of thinking. We need an open heart so as to see the situation through

the eyes of those who suffer and be able to show empathy. We need an open

will to be able to let go of what is no longer necessary or appropriate to let the

new come, to welcome new possibilities.

At some point we can also get tired of change and hope we have gone through

it all already.This is clearly not the message a constantly evolving universe

sends us.”   

(Sr. Carmen Sammut, MSOLA, “Living Religious Life in a Climate of Change – Examining the Fault Lines”)


July 15, 2015

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

We can be “humbly proud” of our founding stories! These stories inspire, motivate and give us courage and an example of what can happen when we work together for the good of all.

July, 1864 – “Shortly after their arrival in New Bedford, there was an outbreak of smallpox in New Bedford.  The sisters tended the sick in their homes as they had done in France.” (Archives)

It was not long after that the sisters at Villa Maria, in cooperation with the railroad workers, provided a place to care for the workers. And after that in 1911, a hospital was established in Youngstown, St. Elizabeth’s.  With lay partnership, the sisters would continue the care of the sick, reaching out to sponsor St. Joseph’s in Warren and to assume sponsorship of St. Joseph’s in Lorain. 

Over time, through the leadership of our sisters, leaders of other religious congregations and deeply committed lay ministry partners, individual health care systems and hospitals, including our own, creatively initiated and effectively transformed themselves into a health care system.  Today our health care ministry is integrated with Mercy Health System (formerly CHP) that collaborates daily with many others sharing the same mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus to thousands of individuals and to provide over $1 million of charity care each day to those most in need. Our ministry has become part of the largest provider of Medicaid services in the state of Ohio. Our original sisters never could have imagined how clearly and effectively the Gospel message would be proclaimed today in this way.

There was no road map for the early sisters.  And there is no road map for us today. The only guides we have are the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel message which we live out through our mission, our Church teachings, the founding stories and charism of our courageous, humble and generous founders and the commitment of our sisters for over 150 years to “share Jesus’ mission of bringing more abundant life to God’s people, especially to those who are poor, by announcing the liberating message of the gospel and by the witness of [their] lives.” (HM Constitutions No 3)

  • On this Feast of the Humility of Mary, what is it of our founding story that inspires you?
  • What works are you/we doing alone now that you/we could do even more effectively by collaborating with others?
  • How have you/we prepared our lay partners and entrusted to them the mission that we espouse?

July 1, 2015

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

Pope Francis says in The Joy of the Gospel, Salvation came to us from the "yes" uttered by a lowly maiden from a small town on the fringes of a great empire. The Savior was born in a manger, in the midst of animals. . . (p. 99).  Mary, who brought him into the world with great faith, also accompanies the rest of her offspring, those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. (p. 138). 

"Yes"!  How many times in your life have you uttered that response to God? In the day-to-day it may be many times in your small decisions and actions. At other times, it may be about major decisions in your life-change in ministry, living situations, how to carry out the Gospel message.

We welcome a person into our ministries who has uttered "Yes" to her God and accepted a call to be the new president of Magnificat High School. Jen Halliday has lived Mary's Magnificat in the world and knows the meaning of those words. She trusts that Mary will accompany her in this part of her life journey as she strives to "bear testimony to Jesus".

In a conversation with Jen, however, she is eager to explore more deeply what it means to learn, lead and serve in the spirit of Mary's Magnificat (MHS Mission).  What do those words, in the spirit of Mary's Magnificat, mean to you?  As the HM community prayer, how do we translate these words into our life?

(If you wish to share your reflection on these words with Jen to support her growing knowledge of, and passion to live in the spirit of Mary's Magnificat, you may email her at 

June 26, 2015

From Sr. Mary Pat Cook

“Summer’s filled with breaking the rules, standing apart, ignoring your head, and following your heart.”

This anonymous quote appeared in the cartoon “Mutts” as part of a “summer’s here” series. Edward Hayes has said that if God has a favorite season, it would be summer, a preference echoed in the hearts of students and teachers – and many of the rest of us. There is a freedom in our image of summer … a freedom that speaks of life, of fun, of joy … of God.

So often we struggle to identify what our God wants of us, what “the plan” is, which is the path that is “the will of God.” We want to do it right, to stay on the straight and narrow. If we read the gospel, however, we discover that Jesus wasn’t too worried about being straight or narrow – although he often spoke of doing the will of his Abba/Amma God. When we read his actions in the gospel, what we see of that will of God is not a following of rules. What we see is love, lived in freedom.

Ilia Delio, OSF, speaks of a God who loves love, who has a zest for life, who is life - a God who “is this infinite realm of possibilities.” She challenges us to “every day slow down, breathe and do something fun,” – a summer Spirit to be sure. Can I bring that summer Spirit to my choices? Can I trust enough in the presence of God within my own heart – and yours – to choose life, to be open to wonder and awe?

Can I make space to see that infinite realm of options? Can I believe in a God who is open to an infinite array of possibilities? With Ilia, can I hear God saying “Hey, chill out. We’re still working at this future together. Make a choice … choose something and then we’ll work with it. We’ll see how it can generate life.” Can I let God be God?

June 5, 2015

From Sr. Mary Pat Cook

As we, the Church, the People of God, move into Ordinary time, the first feast we celebrate is Trinity Sunday – a feast that sounds more like doctrine than celebration – and certainly not ordinary!

Perhaps we identify with the person who said “I must confess that the arithmetical aspect of the Deity does not greatly interest me” … or maybe the one who “wished there were four of ‘em that he might believe more of ‘em.”

As a freshman in high school, my religion teacher had us reading Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed. One passage read something like: “If you truly believe in the Trinity, it should shape the way you act toward the people on your bus.” As an all-knowing 14-year-old, I quickly decided that Mr. Sheed might be good at theology, but the sanity part was doubtful. And yet (as is true of the words of so many whose wisdom I have come to recognize after the fact), that comment has been a seed in my head and heart that blooms every so often – and indeed every year on that not-so-mathematical feast.

The Trinity is mystery – a word that might be used to take us off the hook, to let us park it on a shelf, reserved for sane and not-so-sane theologians. It certainly has nothing to do with how we interact with others on our bus or at our meeting or in the parking lot.

And yet the word MYSTERY itself draws me. Over 50 years later, I hold Mr. Sheed’s seed in prayer, surrounded by my own images of the Mystery that is God, the God who is Love, the God in whose being I am enfolded, the God in whose image I have been created. Somehow I am an image of love, of mystery, of Trinity?!

Jesus was not big on doctrines. He spoke of relationships, his relationship with his Abba/Amma God, their relationship together with Spirit, his oneness with God and the overflowing of that oneness into love of his friends, of all creation, of us, -- of me! Trinity is not about doctrine. Trinity is relationship. And we are part of that relationship, that dance of love. We are images of that God, that love, that oneness. When we accept the mystery-gift, when we truly believe we are an image of Trinity-God-Love, it makes a difference in how we act on that bus!


May 15, 2015

From Sr. Toby Lardie

I have been intrigued by the scripture readings for the weekdays since Easter. The first reading has been generally taken from the Acts of the Apostles and recount amazing deeds performed in the name of Jesus, bold preaching from confident disciples, and incredible moving forward in spite of hardships in the early church. The Gospel reading, on the other hand, has told of the fear, questions and lack of understanding of the Apostles who just didn’t get it. It was the coming of the Spirit at that first Pentecost that made the difference and catapulted the followers of Jesus into a new moment. What happened at that first Pentecost that changed everything forever?

Unless the eye catch fire,
The God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
The God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
The God will not be known.

William Blake (1757-1827) from Pentecost

What does it mean to catch fire, to Ignite, to burst into flames?  What will set my heart on fire for God? Come, Holy Spirit, that I may catch fire for You.


May 1, 2015

From Sr. Toby Lardie

After the thaw of winter, the ground softens, allowing the spring rains to loosen the hard packed earth. As a child I used to wonder what it was like for those seeds buried below the surface. After so many months of what seemed like nothing happening, could the seeds feel the changes around them and, more importantly, within them? I mean, did it hurt when the seed coating started to expand and crack open? Back in February were there rumors going around among the seed pods that things were going to change? That life as they knew it was going to be so radically different? That they needed to leave their comfortable existence, allow their shells to crack open and begin to sprout new shoots and reach up toward the light?

It seems like the kind of questions and worries that a child might carry. But then again, sometimes I approach change that way. Early rumors cause so many questions about why and how and when? Will it hurt? Do I have to let go of something? Change what I do? Leave this comfortable place? 

Or then again, those seeds in that hard packed dirt might just start feeling the earth warming up. The rains come, loosening everything that had been held so tightly, allowing the seed to begin to sprout - a long, wonderful stretch toward the surface. Ooooo, that does feel so good....sort of like a long massage, loosening and stretching everything. Maybe it's excitement now in the seed world. The message is passed on from place to place, “It's time, get ready!”  This is the time we've been waiting for. It's our turn to move into the light. Just wait until you break the surface! You will be so amazed at the world you see - so many colors, so many designs and patterns! It is so amazing!

And so it happens every year in that seed I allowing it to happen within me? Something new is breaking open, pushing toward the light. Something is it scary? Or is it right on time? God is the Gardner, encouraging, massaging, softening, calling forth. May this glorious springtime that I see on the outside be a mirror of what is happening on the inside in my soul.


April 15, 2015

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

In this Easter Season we experience the mystery of Resurrection - a promise of new life in Christ. Nothing can stand in the way of what God intends for us, not even the power of death. We are being invited to use our human creative potential in building this new earth.  Can we name a gift deep within us that could empower this new earth to have more abundant life? Will we be visionaries of the not yet realized possibilities of what cannot yet be seen? With “new eyes” we see how God is breaking into our midst as spring’s wonderful transformation invites us to join in this magnificent dance of new life!

Day by day “easter ” in us, O Holy God of Mystery, that we may be Your living presence in a world that longs for deep communion and lasting peace.


April 1, 2015

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

Several months before Sister Ita Ford, M.M., was martyred in El Salvador on Dec. 2, 1980, she wrote the following: "I hope that you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you. Something worth living for - maybe even worth dying for, something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead."

These words are especially powerful this week when we hear the story of the Paschal Mystery and recommit ourselves to lives of love and service. Entering into these sacred days, may we come to understand more deeply the incredible gift of God’s unconditional love. May we become more aware of those who are rejected and marginalized: those who are poor, those in refugee camps, those experiencing violence, those who are victims of human trafficking and those trapped in addictions. They all long for a fuller life.

As we ponder that we are all connected in this human family and with all of creation:
How can we bring about God’s dream of a whole, united and healed cosmos?

To what am I being called by my Beloved God, so that others may have life and have it more abundantly?   

What “energizes and enthuses me” and “enables me” to keep moving ahead in living out the Gospel?


March 15, 2015

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul thirsts for you, O God. Psalm 42:1

The journey of Holy Week is near. Imagine being in the crowd as Jesus comes into view. What would you do, say, or feel? Would you be caught in the crowd waving palms and shouting Hosanna? If you were able to look into Jesus eyes what would you see? And put yourself at the table at the Last Supper, what would you observe or would you be caught up in the chatter and the meal? And on Good Friday where would you be? How would you feel? Then the quiet of Holy Saturday …

For some of us it is hard to imagine what persecution and barbaric death is like. The images are dreadful and staying with the images is too painful and fearful. And we ask where God is in this suffering just as Jesus asked. The feeling of being abandoned is overwhelming.  And yet maybe in the silence of Holy Saturday we begin to get a glimpse of the hope that resides in the suffering. Those who feel the hope come together in community to talk about the happenings, to remember and then to catch a glimpse of life in another form, feeling that life unfolding deep within. And the mystery continues.


March 1, 2015

From Sr. Barbara Wincik

The gospel for the second week of Lent calls us to dwell on our own transformation.  The image of God dwells in all of us. How do we nourish that image? How can we be that positive hope for others in a world that struggles with violence and persecution? Or do we need to find hope in the midst of the struggles we meet each day? There are no easy answers but the answers lie in the deepest part of ourselves. Perhaps we can take a lesson from the winter snow that cradles beneath it life. It is in the quiet waiting and listening that our truths unfold. Keep watch for the opportunities to deepen and grow in faith in God who loves us and desires to be close to us.


February 12, 2015

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

On Wednesday, February 18, we begin another Lent. How many Lents have you lived? What transformation in your life took place because of the way you journeyed through Lent? What made certain Lents special for you?

You need not look far to find daily reflections for Lent. These booklets, pages, websites are multiple and present multitudinous themes for reflection. Each author will present the theme that addresses what he or she believes is so important that others are invited to focus one's Lenten thoughts, reflections and actions on this particular theme. Examples may be caring for the poorest people in society, following Jesus for 40 days, taking action to care for creation, focus on the vows, support the efforts to help immigrant children, perhaps feeding the hungry, or it may be as one author stated simply, called to love.

Only YOU can and must decide how you will walk this Lenten journey. 
Henri Nouwen in his 1996 Reflections, Called to Life, Called to Love, offers a simple but challenging suggestion:

"Lent offers a beautiful opportunity to discover the mystery of Christ within us. 
It is a gentle but also demanding time. 
It is a time of solitude but also community.
It is a time of listening to the voice within, but also a time of paying attention to other people's needs. 
It is a time to continuously make the passage to new inner life as well as to life with those around us."

Each one of us will hear the call to life, the call to love. How will you respond to that call during these Lenten days. How will you journey through Lent 2015?  What is your hope for this special season of the Church year?


February 2, 2015

From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

“Listening is a personal pilgrimage that takes time and a willingness to circle back.

Unpredictable as life itself, the practice of listening is one of the most mysterious, luminous and challenging art forms of the earth.  We learn to listen to what we are not yet aware of…” (p.11) Mark Nepo Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

Deep listening happens when I quiet the noise in my own mind and soul, and simply sit with another person, giving him/her the gift of my time and presence. Recently, I have strived to listen in this way with several sisters dealing with health concerns. It is a privilege to witness their deep faith, their trust in the Holy One’s embrace as they face an unknown future.

A willingness to circle back means I have to allow another’s sharing to open my own heart to deepening compassion.  As I listened to one of our partners in ministry, working with young Central American children fleeing violence and seeking refuge and family reunification, I felt moved to respond to welcome the strangers in our midst, advocating on their behalf.  To truly listen to another is to open ourselves to transformation and conversion. 

Listening is always a challenge and always holds mystery.  Another recent experience of that “personal pilgrimage” of listening came in a rehab facility where I sat with a friend after the amputation of his lower left leg. He was making plans to return home full of hope. This challenge was not insurmountable for him because he knew that his Beloved would walk with him on this mysterious journey in the company of his family and friends.

Over a month ago, I was sitting in quiet with my step-mother during her last days, in the presence of death, perhaps the deepest of mysteries.  During those long days, I was graced with many insights about her life, her struggles and her incredible faith during her 96 years.

During this season of winter, I hope we take time to deeply listen for that which we are not yet “aware.” Through that luminous art of listening, may we ever open ourselves to where God is leading us in Holy Mystery.


January 21, 2015

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

God has created me to do some definite service. God has committed some work to me which has not been committed to another. I have my mission. (adapted) St. John Neumann

Have you ever paused and reflected on your mission in life? The mission God has committed to you and to no other? What is your mission?

For many of us, that mission is to "share Jesus’ mission of bringing more abundant life to God's people especially to the poor by responding to the needs of the times" through, and with, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. 

Our mission is not just a statement to be posted or placed somewhere as a nice reminder of what our life is. It is not just a blueprint for planning our future and then to be put away. It is a Way of Life! Our mission guides and directs every word, action, thought of our lives. 

Through this month of January there have been many events, occasions, special days which call us to use the lens of our mission to more deeply integrate these celebrations or remembrances into our lives as we daily live our mission. For example, consider how our mission relates to Christian Unity Week, Martin Luther King (Jan. 15/19), Poverty Awareness Month (January), World Day for Migrants and Refugees (Jan. 18), Day of Prayer for Legal Protection of Unborn Children (Jan. 22), prayers for the sick and suffering, security of people and nations, relief for the hungry, etc., etc.

For these occasions and the many others in your life, take a moment and ask, How am I bringing more abundant life to God's people especially to the poor by responding to the needs of the times?


January 2, 2015

From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold

Jesus loves the poor so much that he tells his disciples, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me."  (Mt. 25:40)

Sometimes, we become overwhelmed with the amount and different types of poverty in our midst, in our local community, our state, our country and in our world. Most often some form of poverty results from human trafficking, immigration, unemployment, homelessness, racism, degradation of the environment and a disrespect for life in all its forms. We read about it daily in the media. We see it on the news. We experience poverty as we travel through our cities or neighborhoods.

Do we really need to have our attention called to the poverty in a special way for a whole month? January has been designated as Poverty Awareness Month 2015 by the USSCB.  It is viewed as an opportunity for the US Bishops, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Catholic Community in the US to take up Pope Francis' challenge to live in solidarity with those who daily struggle with the injustice of poverty. "We are one family under God". 

We are all aware of the phrase "option for the poor" and personally  have embraced this principle in our daily lives for years. The challenge put before us in this month is:  "how do you live out the option for the poor and vulnerable"? One way is related to the gift we bring, as did the three kings bring gifts, the gift of our voice. We claim, "As Gospel Women, contemplatives in action, we live compassionate justice and courageously speak the truth."

As Christians we all have a responsibility to care for those who are poor. How do you collaborate with others to extend your voice and hands to advocate for those who are poor?

As HM Sisters who profess the vow of poverty, how will you during this month deepen your understanding of this vow, conscious of God's created world? What small action will you take that will enable you to live in solidarity with those who daily struggle with the injustice of poverty?

"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me."  (Mt. 25:40)