Limiting God

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

by Sister Margie Lavonis

One great weakness some of us have is to label others. We say, he is a "problem" or she is a "people pleaser." For example, a person may be a college student, but she is also a daughter, a friend, an athlete, and a compassionate and generous person.

In my reflections these days it occurs to me that we also categorize or label God. As with others, these labels do not do God justice. God is so much more than any label we may give to God. God is a deep mystery.

Sometimes people who want to use inclusive language when speaking to or about God, are criticized. They are often looked upon as people who act like it is sinful to call God "Father." They are labeled woman libbers, radicals or people who have an agenda or a problem with men. This may be true in some cases, but I would like to propose an alternate view.

Language is very important and powerful. When we use inclusive language we broaden our concept of God. To call God exclusively "Father" limits our understanding of God. God is so much more than our human minds can describe. God has the qualities of a good father, but also of a mother, friend, confidant and much more.

Recently I read a book that really stretched my mind about my beliefs with regard to the creation of the world. It was about scientific discoveries concerning our planet Earth and other planets. It has been proven that matter existed billions of years before the earth, as we experience it, is today.

Somehow I had limited God’s action and presence to this earth. I began to ask some questions. What if there is life on other planets? Does God extend salvation to them? Is God present in the rest of the universe? Is our God just interested in the creatures of this planet?

In the past, theologians named God as almighty, all-powerful, transcendent and so on. Jesus told us other things about God. The God Jesus described is loving, compassionate, involved in each person’s life. The God of Jesus is concerned about the poor and those treated unjustly. God’s love and salvation extends beyond the walls of Christianity and even of our planet Earth. God loves Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics and even creatures from outer space.

Saint Paul says that God’s love is more than we can ask or imagine. I would say that God, too, is more than we can imagine with our human minds. We cannot describe God adequately or limit the expanse of God’s love.

What limits have you put on God? Share your new understanding with me in the comments.

Feast of Pentecost

Request for wartime nursing begins a legacy of health care ministry

Thursday, May 12, 2016

This week is National Nurses Week and we want to thank and honor nurses everywhere. Sisters of the Holy Cross have a long legacy caring for others as nurses.

In 1861 Sisters of the Holy Cross answered a call to serve in the U.S. Civil War and, in doing so, helped establish nursing as a new and honored profession.

Six months after the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War Governor Morton of Indiana asked the congregation if it could spare sisters to care for the Indiana soldiers. Although they had no training as nurses, six Holy Cross sisters, led by Mother M. Angela (Eliza Gillespie), volunteered to journey to Paducah, Kentucky, to tend the sick and the wounded. Many more sisters followed.

On Christmas Eve 1862, three Sisters of the Holy Cross boarded the U.S. Navy’s first hospital ship, The Red Rover, to serve as nurses for the wounded on both sides of the war. In so doing they became what U.S. naval history today hails as the pioneers or forerunners of the United States Navy Nurse Corps. Before the conflict ended, 65 of the 160 Sisters of the Holy Cross in the United States would serve in the Civil War, and another 13 sisters would serve in the Spanish-American War.

As the nation expanded, the sisters responded by establishing 19 hospitals over 133 years, serving as administrators, nurses and chaplains.
Read more about how the Holy Cross sisters continue to minister in a variety of health care settings worldwide like the Saint John Dispensary in the Khagrachari Hill Tracts district in southeastern Bangladesh and the Kyembogo Holy Cross Health Centre in Kirinda, Uganda.

The Holy Cross nursing legacy also lives on in the nursing students of Saint Mary’s College, a sponsored ministry of Sisters of the Holy Cross.

Photo above: Sister Nirmola Maria Goretti Cruze, CSC, provides physical stimulation for a child with disabilities at the House of Hope Center in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Sister Nirmola, who has a passion for working with mentally and physically challenged people, traveled to the United States to learn more about caring for those in her ministry.

The Vocation of Motherhood

Sunday, May 8, 2016

by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC

May is traditionally dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Besides honoring Mary in May, we also single out and thank our own mothers on Mothers Day.

Like our Blessed Mother Mary, a mother is someone who says yes to the call to raise her children in love. The primary role or vocation of a mother is to nurture and protect her children. She helps to form their values and is a major influence on their emotional and spiritual development. The instruction in the rite of baptism tells parents that they are the first and primary educators of their children in the faith. Being a parent, a mother, is an enormous gift and responsibility.

When I was growing up I remember my mother being very involved in our parish. She belonged to many parish organizations. She did everything from washing altar linens to becoming a Eucharistic minister. Even into her late 70s she still brought Communion to patients in the hospital. She often went to daily Mass and took us to special services like novenas. There is no doubt in my mind that her devotion and dedication was a great influence on my formation in the faith and ultimately my becoming a Sister of the Holy Cross.

Another attribute of motherhood is their lifetime concern for their children. Even though a component of motherhood is letting go of their grown children, mothers never cease to love and support them in good times and in bad.

Children can cause much sorrow and discouragement, but parents, especially mothers, continue to bestow faithful love. Consider Saint Monica who prayed many years for the conversion of her wayward son who eventually became Saint Augustine and a doctor of the Church.

There are also those who are spiritual mothers. These women may not give physical birth to children, but serve as important mentors. They may be women who step in when a mother dies or is ill, or they befriend children who lack mothering in their own families.

Often we take our mothers for granted and neglect to show them our gratitude. It is important to show our thanks every day not just once a year. The vocation of motherhood is not always easy and often mothers make great sacrifices for their children. .

Show your special love this year.

Teach Us to Pray

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Luke 11:1

  1. Quiet yourself; be still inside and out.
  2. Realize you are nothing without God; declare your trust in Divine Providence.
  3. Ask God for the grace you want and need.
  4. Read and reflect on your Scripture passage; read the passage slowly, letting the words wash over you; stay with the words that catch your attention.
  5. Place yourself in the situation; listen to what is being said; watch what happens; become part of the mystery; substitute your name; and listen. What is going on in your soul as you experience the passage? What difference does it make for society, for your family, for your life, as you hear the message?
  6. Close the prayer period with a conversation with God — our Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. Be yourself.
  7. Spend some time reviewing your prayer.
Make Jesus a personal part of your life. Strive to know and love him more deeply. Communicate with him regularly in prayer. He is always here for us.

Why do we make prayer so hard?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC
There are literally hundreds of books written on prayer and how to pray.  Lots of people spend more time reading about prayer than time actually praying.  Why do you suppose that is?  Maybe they see the value of prayer, but to find it difficult.

Recently, I received an insight about prayer and why we seem to avoid it even though we see it as important.  A reason could be that many of us still operate out of the Greek understanding that persons are split into body and soul.  We tend to divide our lives into two categories, spiritual life and normal life.  We see our spiritual life as separate from our everyday life and fail to integrate both parts of ourselves.  We “work on” our prayer life as if it were divorced from the rest of our life. 

Having said that, let’s ask ourselves how we define prayer.  For some prayer is saying the daily rosary or favorite verses.  Prayer for others is reading the bible or other spiritual books.  What is our normal ritual?  Do we ever set aside time to just be with God?

Some view prayer as something we have to “fit in” our day.  Imagine a woman who gives her husband 15 minutes a day.  During this time she reads the same stuff to him.  When she is finished she does not think about him again until the next 15-minute “appointment!”  Their relationship would probably soon become boring and unfulfilled.

 This often happens in our relationship with God.  We try to carve out some time for him, successfully or unsuccessfully, during our day and do not think about God again until we need something, are in church or at our next prayer period.

 Prayer is meant to nourish our relationship with God and not be limited to a time or place.  Think of how we nurture our other relationships.  I am quite sure that very few of us talk to our friends with canned, already composed words. To develop a good friendship with someone we must spend time with them to share our lives, joys, pain, hopes and dreams.  We share what is happening in each other’s lives. Also, our thoughts are not limited to our physical presence.  We can do it even from afar.

 A good relationship with God is not much different. Prayer is basically conversation with God that can be at any time. Prayer helps us reach our goal to make God the center of our lives.  We can drift away from God if we are never conscious of His presence in our lives.  It doesn’t matter what kind of prayer we use as long as it draws us closer to God