Thursday, October 27, 2016

How can we show others the mercy of God?

Give drink to the thirsty

Many of people around the world do not have access to clean water and suffer from the lack of this basic necessity. Here are some ways you can help.
  • Make an effort not to waste water. Develop the habit of turning off the water faucet instead of letting it run while you are brushing your teeth or washing dishes can help. 
  • Learn about and look for ways to support the efforts of those working to help provide greater accessibility for this essential resource.
  • At the Colégio Santa Maria in São Paulo, Brazil, Sisters Anne Veronica Horner Hoe and Diane Cundiff are doing their part to raise awareness about responsible and sustainable use of water resources. Sister Anne serves as principal of pre-school and elementary education and Sister Diane is principal of secondary education at the school. Each year students, teachers and employees study and experience water shortages. Students are learning to better manage the fresh water resources available and are teaching others best practices for the future.

Middle school students learn how to make low-cost cisterns for use at their homes involving their families in purchasing and setting up the units. Students have also had the chance to lead classes on sustainable practices for adult night-school students, parents and youth in a nearby public school and parents at a daycare center.

Learn more about Colégio Santa Maria, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.

Donate Now to support the school and other ministries.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How can we show others the mercy of God?

Feed the Hungry

There are many people in this world who do not have enough food to eat. Think about developing some of good habits that can benefit others who do not have the resources you do.
  • The next time you make a recipe that can be easily frozen, make a double batch and donate one to your local food pantry or soup kitchen.
  • Try not to purchase more food than you are able to eat. If you notice that you end up throwing groceries away each week, purchasing less groceries would eliminate waste and allow you to donate the savings to those in need.
  • The Sisters of the Holy Cross Ministry With the Poor Fund supports Broadway Christian Parish, South Bend, Indiana, in its food pantry and drop-in shelter which provides food, clothing, laundry and shower supplies for marginalized and homeless individuals.
Sister Suzanne Patterson stocks the shelves in the food pantry
at Broadway Christian Parish in South Bend Indiana.

Learn more about how the Ministry With the Poor Fund helps people around the world.

Donate Now to support these and other ministries of Sisters of the Holy Cross.

Sharing Mercy

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Jubilee Year of Mercy, designated by Pope Francis, comes to a close next month. It is a good time to reflect on how we have received God’s mercy through acts of love, kindness and generosity and how we have been loving, kind and generous. The pope tells us that encountering mercy means encountering God. It can transform our attitudes, our relationships, our work and our ability to embrace and experience all of life.

Now is also a good time to examine how we can be more merciful and loving in our everyday lives. Jesus gave us several ways to show mercy. They include: feeding the poor, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and the imprisoned, burying the dead, giving alms to the poor and caring for creation.

Join us for the next few weeks as we share ways to live out the Corporal Works of Mercy found in Jesus' teachings. We'll also relay some stories about our sisters as they strive to reflect God’s mercy back in to the world.

Good community doesn't just happen

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC

The one of the four core values of the Sisters of the Holy Cross is Community. We declare and believe that we are called to build community wherever we are. The key word is build. Relationships are the core of community and meaningful community doesn’t just happen.
Some have many relatives, but still do not experience the true feeling of family. On the other hand, a group of unrelated people can almost mean more to us than our own brothers and sisters. What makes the difference?

To build a community or family requires effort on the part of each person. Members must actively care for and respect one another. Trust and honesty between the members are crucial elements.

To make community happen we must be willing to go out of ourselves. We must share our lives with others. This includes both our joys and our pain. It means letting other people into our lives. It means striving to become interdependent rather than independent and self-sufficient. Being part of a community means being willing to receive as well as give.

Authentic Christian community requires a willingness to share our values and our faith in Jesus. It involves forgiving and asking for forgiveness. Sometimes we have to take the first step. We might have to be the ones who introduce ourselves to the people who sit next to us at Mass, invite someone to join a parish organization, or begin the process of reconciliation in our lives.

Each of us belongs to more than one community. An interesting exercise might be to write down all of these groups, select one and then list all the ways you can build and strengthen that community. It could be your family, workplace, school or parish. It takes work, but it is worth it.

To God be the glory

Thursday, October 13, 2016

by Sister Cynthia Godia Bienaan, CSC

Sister Cynthia (top left) with her catechism students and their families.
To God be the glory! This statement echoed in my heart on the morning of July 23, 2016, as I sat in the Church of Our Lady of the Blessed Assumption in Fijai, Ghana, a suburb of Takoradi, watching my students all dressed in white processing to the altar to receive Communion.
It all started in January when Sister Scholastica Elizabeth Ampadu, CSC, director of temporarily professed sisters in Ghana, informed me that the owner of Greater Heights School, needed someone to teach catechism in her school. This school is one of the best grade schools in the Takoradi municipality.
One of the challenges the parents face is that, due to their work schedule, they are unable to send their children for the catechism classes organized by the parishes. After grade school, most students end up in high schools that are not Catholic, so they grow up into adulthood without receiving holy Communion. A solution posed by the parents was for someone to come to school to teach catechism classes during the hour between when classes ended and the parents picked up their children.

Opportunities & Challenges

I went home excited and scared at the same time. I felt excited because I have always wanted the opportunity to get involved in pastoral work, and scared because it was going to be my first time and also the first time the school offered this program. That night, as I pondered over it all, I told myself that I was going to do it. I went to the school the following afternoon, after my regular work at a different school, and was greeted by 38 students between the ages of eight and 12.
Five months later I received admission into a university in a nearby city. This meant I would no longer be able to teach catechism class. Were the children ready for the sacrament? If not, was there someone to take over their training?
I talked to a priest about the possibility of the children receiving Communion, but he insisted that the period had to be at least two years. Even though we were meeting three times a week—unlike parish classes that meet once a week—we still were not ready. I invited another priest to one of our sessions and after quizzing the students and listening to them he seemed impressed. He told me that he felt they were ready, but he could not administer the sacrament because the location was not under his jurisdiction. So I went to another priest who was close by and he asked me to provide him with an outline of what the class had covered. The next day he called me and gave me a date to listen to their confessions.
A Worthwhile Effort

As I sat in church watching my students process to the altar, I remembered all the fears I had at the beginning—not having enough materials, the hot scorching walk I had in the afternoons to go meet with them and the children being too tired after hours of regular school classes. I remembered the challenge of finding a priest willing and ready to administer the sacrament. Seeing the students all in their white clothes joyfully communing with the Lord, I felt all those challenges were worth it.

What I took away from this experience is that when I am assigned to do something new, I should not run away from it, especially when I think I am not up to it or it looks scary. I should instead embrace it, give it my very best human effort and trust Providence to take care of the rest. Secondly, when I am confronted with challenges while executing something I should not give up. I should keep pushing, believing that the One who sent me on the mission will make sure that I have what I need to complete it. I will forever hold this experience in my heart.

Being God's instrument of peace

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC

The need for peace in the world is on the minds of many. Almost daily we hear news of violence, war and death from around the world. In light of this reality, it is easy to feel helpless and even depressed. We may ask ourselves what we could possibly do to bring peace to the world?

Most of us probably won’t have direct influence on settling the wars that rage throughout the world, but there are ways we can bring peace to our own environments. A good guide to follow is the prayer commonly attributed to St. Francis.

 Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.  
How can we sow love and dispel hatred? Most of us probably do not really hate many, if any, individuals. However, there are those we might certainly dislike. As a starter we can pray for these people and ask the Lord to give us eyes to see their goodness as God does.

Where there is injury, pardon.
Most conflicts, large or small, usually begin because of hurt and/or the refusal to forgive. Who are the people who have hurt us or we have hurt? Those who hold grudges can never be completely at peace. It is amazing, but sometimes people cannot even remember why they are angry.

Where there is doubt, faith.
One way to help someone overcome his or her doubts is to share our own faith in the unconditional love of God with that person. Our faith in the goodness and love of God can lift up others whose faith is weak.

Where there is despair, hope.
Christians are called to be people of hope. Despite how it seems, God continues to love every person and thing that he made and he certainly will not destroy what he created. This message of God’s love can only bring hope.

Where there is darkness, light.
Christians must not let themselves be weighed down by negativity. We must light up the darkness by trying to be positive. We can overcome negativity by looking for the good in all persons and situations.

Where there is sadness, joy.
We can perform small acts of kindness to lighten the sadness of others. Too often we shy away from those who are sad because we don’t know what to say. Sometimes we don’t have to say anything.

O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek…
To be consoled, as to console.
Think about what our world would be like if we were sensitive to those who are hurting and not always focused on our own personal problems.

To be understood, as to understand.
We cannot always understand others but we certainly can listen to them.

To be loved, as to love.
When we forget ourselves and reach out in love to others, it usually comes back to us a hundredfold.

For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and in dying that we are born to eternal life.
If each of us could do all or any of these things we could begin to transform our little corner of the world and bring it peace. Pick one and start today.