Today we celebrate the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita. After being held as a slave for many years, she eventually gained her freedom and entered the religious community of the Canossian Sisters in Italy. Most of her life then consisted of serving in the kitchen and as keeper of the door.
It strikes me that Josephine first was forced to serve as a slave and then later chose to serve God as her Master (her favorite title for God). Her choosing to serve made all the difference! Just as Mary saw herself as the handmaid of the Lord and chose to give her life in humble service, Josephine chose to offer the many facets of her day as service to the ONE she loved.
Whether we see the contents of our day as something forced upon us or as something we can choose to offer makes a world of difference. God desires the generous gift of our lives, freely chosen and freely given.
We all know of people whose presence can light up a room, put everyone at ease, and bring out the best in those present. Today’s Gospel reading from Mark relates that Jesus had this effect on people. Everyone flocked to him, wanting to be near enough to him that they could touch the tassle of his cloak, because his presence brought them healing and made them whole.
I suspect that Mary’s presence had a similar effect on people, since she carried the presence of Jesus in a transparent and unhindered way. While crowds may not have gathered at her door, I think she was someone who had a way of making others feel comfortable, at home, and whole. She nurtured the life of Jesus in herself and in each person she met.
Several of our Sisters have the privilege of being present to others in healing ministries. Sister Mary Camilla Lochotzki serves as a nurse at Rosary Care Center, Sister Mary Maxine Young is a chaplain at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Sister Mary Corese Floyd visits the sick as a pastoral minister, and many of our other Sisters tend to those who are ill and elderly. I thank God for these Sisters and all caregivers who find simple ways of sharing the power of Jesus’ healing presence with those in need.
Just 40 days ago we celebrated the feast of Christmas and the mystery of the Incarnation. Today, Mary and Joseph continue to live faithfully their response to God’s call as they fulfill the requirements of the law and bring Jesus to the temple. Along with Simeon and Anna who faithfully waited for the coming of the Messiah, they witness God’s revelation to His people.
Each of us is also called to live our daily lives in fidelity to God’s call. For our Sisters, this may be Sister Mary Kent Burgard teaching a readiness class at Lial Catholic School, Sister Mary Patricia Snyder hosting a bible study, or Sister Virginia Marie Myers helping with food preparation in our Provincial Center kitchen. We bring our gifts and talents, as Mary did, to furthering the mission of Jesus wherever we find ourselves each day.
Many of our Sisters entered Notre Dame on this Feast of the Presentation and celebrate their anniversaries today. May Mary continue to be their companion as they share God’s goodness and care with others. Happy Anniversary, Sisters!
As we begin the celebration of this Catholic Schools Week, I’m mindful of the powerful gift of education that I have received from so many in my life. First and foremost, I am most grateful to my parents for all they have taught me both by their words and the example of their lives.
In the Gospel, we are told that Jesus grew in wisdom, age and grace before God and men. In his humanity, Jesus needed to learn just like the rest of us. Certainly, Mary and Joseph were primary educators in his life. Many of the parables and images Jesus used in his own teaching were likely ones he learned from Mary in his early years. It’s not hard to make the connection between the compassion and mercy Jesus showed to others and what he must have witnessed in Mary’s example.
As Sisters of Notre Dame, we look to Mary as a model educator. Our ministries of education are privileged ways for us to help others come to know the deep truth of God’s goodness and provident care. Perhaps you have been educated by one of our Sisters or perhaps you are a co-educator. Celebrate the great gift of Catholic education with us this week!
Join us in rejoicing with our Sisters in Papua New Guinea as they celebrate the installation of Sister Mary Lilian as the new delegation superior this weekend. Sister has been with our community since 1992 and has served most recently with the local radio station. We ask Mary, Queen of Apostles, to intercede for her and for all of our sisters as they proclaim God’s goodness and provident care to the people of Papua New Guinea. See Sr. Mary Lilian now!http://t.co/tsnVWoMi
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