“You prepare a table before me….”

By Sr. Susan Maria Kusz | September 26, 2012 |

This morning I sat with Psalm 23.  It’s a familiar one to all of us, a psalm of comfort.  “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”  Most of us could recite much of it by heart.  Today what struck me was the line “You prepare a table before me.”  The first tables I thought of were the Eucharistic table and the tables at which we are fed and nourished as families, as communities.  But another thought came to me:  “What are all the other tables prepared for me today?”

As evening comes, I reflect on these tables of grace where I was fed and nourished:  at the Eucharist … at lunchtime when we celebrated a retreatant’s 86th birthday … sharing some McDonald’s gift cards with a homeless man and receiving his hug in return … answering the phone and receiving good news about the health of one of our aged monks … speaking with a future monastery guest and discovering we have a friend in common … feeling grateful for someone listening to my story … feasting my eyes on a double rainbow before supper … and assuredly countless more!  Indeed, I shall not want!

What tables were prepared for you today?

What does God want of you?

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | September 25, 2012 | Comments Off on What does God want of you?

Listen for His call.

L-I-S-T-E-N.   S-I-L-E-N-T.  E-N-L-I-S-T. All three words have the same letters. All three words make a great way to live one’s Christian life.  LISTEN to what God wants of you from the good desires of your hearts, your talents, and the affirmation you receive. Be SILENT and let the mystery of Christ penetrate your inmost being, deepening your awareness of God’s closeness. Then ENLIST in taking up the ministry God asks whether it’s the day’s mission or a lifetime discipleship. All three words can become your prayer for today. LISTEN. SILENT. ENLIST. AMEN.

In loving memory

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | September 24, 2012 |

Bishop Albert Ottenweller enetered eternal life early yesterday morning.  When I heard this news later yesterday, I couldn’t help but thank God for the gift that he has been to so many.  Bishop Ottenweller truly loved people and truly loved the Church. He loved the People of God.

So many of our Sisters’ paths have crossed the Bishop’s path over the years, including his sister (Sister Mary Jogues) and his nieces (Sister Mary Dean and Sister Diane Marie) all of whom are members of our community. I recall many times when he would stop by for a visit with them and with all of us.

My most recent memories of the Bishop include many weekday Masses at the Cathedral where he would celebrate Mass for us. One of the parishioners has aptly named him “Our Friend, the Bishop.” He cared for all of us and helped us to enjoy the simple things in life.

I have no doubt he will continue his presence among us and intercede many blessings for us – just from a slightly different place.  May he know the joy of eternal life!

How was Bishop Ottenweller a blessing in your life?

On the lookout for joy!

By Sr. Susan Maria Kusz | September 23, 2012 | Comments Off on On the lookout for joy!

I’ve been reading the Rule of Benedict ….  Benedict really does not like grumblers … complainers … he has little use for such smallness in the monastic life.  Joan Chittister, OSB, in her reflection on this part of the Rule, says this about the complainers and grumblers in community life:  “We become a living lamentation.  We become a lump of spiritual cement around the neck of the group.”  WOW!  Have you ever met a “living lamentation?”  What about a “lump of spiritual cement?”  We might call them “sad sacks.” I’ve met a few in my life;

in fact this morning even before I read the Rule’s segment for the day, I was actually praying for one, that this person might know a bit of JOY in life.  This is Sunday … the Lord’s Day … a day for joy … a day for relaxation … a day to spread some good cheer … a few laughs ….  We might take a moment to call to mind a person or two who fits that description of a “living lamentation” and lift her / him up in prayer.  Drop by for a visit.  Take something homemade and delicious.  Pick a flower and share it.  Be on the lookout for opportunities to share your joy.  And watch how it brightens YOUR life too!

Profound and Simple

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | September 21, 2012 | Comments Off on Profound and Simple

Today many of the educators of the Toledo Diocese are gathered for an inservice at Seagate Center here in Toledo. Our Sisters are among this group of professionals who continue to daily offer our young people the hope of a promising future.

Education has always played a significant role in who we are as Sisters of Notre Dame. Sister Maria Aloysia and our first Coesfeld Sisters were professional educators even before they entered religious life. They were formed in the spirit of Fr. Bernard Overberg for whom school learning and faith were deeply connected. Overberg recognized the dignity of both student and educator and advocated an education that was clearly linked to daily life. We continue today to educate in his spirit and principles.

I am most grateful for our Sisters and collaborators who educate in many different venues. They offer an invaluable gift and truly make a difference in our world!  Thank you!

Who is a teacher who has made a difference in your life and has helped you to change the world for the better?

Fragility of Life

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | September 17, 2012 |

My brother and sister-in-law were in a serious car accident this past week. We are so fortunate that they are on the road to recovery and doing well.  It’s amazing how life can change in a matter of seconds.

As we navigated this past week with them through emergency rooms, surgeries, physical therapy and rehab, I was touched once again with the reality of how very fragile the gift of life is and how much I take for granted. Their new struggles shed a very different light on my small aches and pains, fatigue and busy schedule. I don’t want to miss this opportunity to be renewed in gratitude for the life I’ve been given. God is indeed very, very good.

I’m also aware in a new way of the tremendous support system we have among family, friends, co-workers, Sisters and so many others.  It’s good to know we have wonderful companions on our journey through life.

May you experience in some small way today a renewed awareness and gratitude for the amazing gift of life.

Love and Rejection

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | September 14, 2012 |

Recently I noticed how often in Scripture Jesus experienced rejection. Passages were easy to find: the skepticism of religious leaders, the disciples who left after the Bread of Life discourse, the choice of Barabbas over Jesus, even the feeling of abandonment by his Father, and many more.

But Jesus does not reject.  I can imagine Jesus saying to us when we feel rejection:

“There is nothing you can do that would cause me to reject you. No, today and always you are my friend, and I will stand by you. I will not only stand by you, I will protect you, guide you, help you in your decisions. I am not a magician that will make your problems disappear. I am not a repairman who will fix every mistake. But I am one who loves you intensely.”

Holy Listening

By Sr. Susan Maria Kusz | September 12, 2012 |

I’ve been reading the Rule of Benedict …. This morning Joan Chittister, OSB ended her commentary on today’s reading from The Rule with this:  “Imagine a world that was run by holy listeners.”   I began to think about the gift of “holy listening.”  I reflected on the places I’ve been in the past few days … here at the monastery … up the road at the Family Dollar store … in our teeny tiny post office … at San Antonio parish … at a local restaurant … at a busy Jiffy Lube … in very ordinary places with very ordinary people.  In each place I can truly say I experienced the gift of holy listening!  Wouldn’t that be something if we could say that about every place we go?  Today I’m going to try to give that gift to someone along the way.  How about you?

Congratulations, Double ARC!

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | September 10, 2012 | Comments Off on Congratulations, Double ARC!

Yesterday, I had the privilege of joining in the celebration as we gave thanks to God for the Double ARC ministry of the past 20 years.  What an incredible group of people gathered for this event!

One of our Notre Dame Education Principles is based on the Human Dignity of Each Person as an Image of God. Certainly this lies at the heart of our Double ARC ministry as those involved reverence each person – each client and each family member – and seek to find ways to encourage a positive sense of self-worth and the full development of each person.

Our foundress, Sister Maria Aloysia, knew what it was to have her heart broken by the plight of hte children she taught who experienced various needs. The staff of Double ARC sees the unique needs in those they serve and I witness their hearts breaking as well. They can’t help but do everything in their power to help these children and families. I’m convinced that Sister Maria Aloysia would feel very much at home with the Double ARC ministry.

We celebrate with deep gratitude the gift of Double ARC and its role in keeping alive our mission of proclaiming God’s goodness in our world.

Miracle Making

By Sr. Susan Maria Kusz | September 8, 2012 |

I’ve been reading the Rule of Benedict …. The other day I came across this gem from Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB in her commentary on Benedict’s Rule: “Work is not just a job; it is our exercise in miracle making.” That got me thinking: I’ve just begun a “new job.” I’m “in transition.” This is all “new ministry.” I’m going through all the mixed feelings one experiences in a new place, doing new things, longing for “the old,” for the “tried and true,” for what “worked” in the past. But it is in the present that God IS. And so I’m trying anew today to practice the spiritual exercise of “miracle making.” How about you? How are you making miracles today?

Cactus in New Mexico