News in Faith
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Ash Wednesday Reflection from the Catholic Health Association of America
If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.
In the days before refrigerators were common, many people used icehouses to keep their food cold. Essentially walk-in coolers, icehouses had thick walls, no windows and tightly-fitted doors. Ice was cut from frozen streams and lakes in the winter and brought into the icehouses, where large blocks were covered in sawdust to be used in the summer months.
A story is told of a man who lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. Though he and his companions searched thoroughly through the sawdust, the watch wasn’t found. The man’s daughter heard about the lost watch and knowing how much it meant to her father, she snuck into the icehouse. A while later she emerged, watch in hand, and returned it to her astonished father who asked how she managed to find it.
“I closed the door,” she replied, “lay down in the sawdust and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”
Ash Wednesday begins the Christian celebration of Lent. Forty days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare believers for the celebration of Easter. A part of Lent is the call to quiet and reflection. A call to still ourselves and consider our faith lives. We cease searching and striving for the external markers of success and fulfillment and settle in to listen to what the still, small voice of God is saying in our lives and in our hearts.
It’s an opportunity to ask ourselves: Am I able to hear the voice of God?
Our lives are filled with noise. From our televisions and computers, tablets, phones and radios, even some gas pumps feature built-in speakers and screens for advertisement. And it’s not just media. Our lives are packed to the brim with things that require attention. In our facilities, monitors are always flashing, often beeping. Residents call out for assistance or need comfort. Calls have to be made. Emails must be answered. Dashboards need attention. Codes, sirens and call lights all require immediate action. While our faith affirms that God is in all of these things, still, Lent calls us away.
Lent calls us to our inner room. To an extra moment of quiet in the car or our office. To linger in the chapel. To wander in the woods. To soften our hearts and listen for the voice of God. The still, small voice that whispers and waits inside of us. Calling us to return. Calling us to faithfulness. Calling us to begin our Lenten journey back home to the God who loves us.
How can you make space in your days this Lent to hear the still, small voice of God in your heart?
Like the watch in the icehouse, what treasure are you seeking on your Lenten journey?
Copyright 2019 Catholic Health Association of the United States.
Sisters is a one-hour documentary film by Robert Gardner that takes us into the lives of five American Catholic Sisters.
It is a film about faith and hope, love and death, seen through the eyes of five women who have committed their lives to the service of others in the deepest way. Without narration, their stories are told in the honest words and actions of the women themselves.
The video is available to view online. To watch click HERE.
To purchase a DVD for group screenings contact Char Gardner at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This last week in St. Louis, Missouri, Sr. Suzanne Stahl and Sr. Elaine Lange marched with fellow members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in support of racial equality.
For more information on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious visit lcwr.org.
On July 1, 2018 Sister Marlyss Dionne and Sister Therese Celine Craven celebrated their 65th Jubilee. A festive Mass, planned by Sister Marlyss and Sister Therese Celine, was held in the Maryvale Chapel with their Religious Community.
In attendance was our Superior General, Sister Jacqueline Josse (pictured), and Sister Mary Jo Guivarch from France.
After Mass, the celebration continued with a delicious brunch and a sharing of memories by their Sisters in religion. Many cards, gifts, and good wishes were given to the celebrating Jubilarians.
On Friday June 8th Father Don Leiphon celebrated his 50th year of ordination into the priesthood. The celebration was held at Maryvale in the Sheyenne River Valley north of Valley City. where Father Leiphon serves as chaplain to the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation. The Mass was presided over by Most Rev. John T. Folda, Bishop, Diocese of Fargo.
Father Don Leiphon grew up on a farm near Devils Lake, ND. He graduated from Assumption Abby College in 1962 and St. John’s University in 1966. Father Leiphon was ordained June 8th 1968 at St. Joseph Church, Devils Lake, ND by Most Rev. Leo Dworschak. He received a Master’s Degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in 1984.
Father Leiphon served at parishes in Oakes, Cogswell, Langdon, Nekoma, Milton, Osnabrock. In 1973 Father Leiphon was named pastor of both Sacred Heart Parish in Orrin and St. Anselm’s Parish of Fulda, and later also Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Balta. In 1981, Father Leiphon was made Spiritual Director of Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo. In 1989, Father Leiphon took the position of Chaplin to the Carmelite Sisters at the Carmel of Mary Monastery, near Wahpeton, ND. In 2003 he became pastor St. Philip’s parish in Napoleon, ND. Today, Father Leiphon is Chaplain to the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation at Maryvale in Valley City, ND.
In attendance at the celebration was the Bishop of the Fargo Diocese, thirty priests, the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation, and a large gathering of friends and family.
At the reception following Mass, Sister Elaine Lange said, “We are so blessed to have Father Leiphon here at Sisters of Mary of the Presentation. His gentleness, green thumb, and homilies have greatly enriched our Community.”
Advent Reflections from the Catholic Health Association of America
God’s Story and Our Story
The Solemnity of Christmas is celebrated with four sets of scripture readings for the Masses of vigil, midnight, dawn and day. Each set of readings presents a different facet of the mystery of the Incarnation.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we touch the need of the early Christian community to trace the lineage of Jesus back to King David, since it was from his house that the Messiah would come. We sense the tension and drama experienced by Joseph as he struggles to accept Mary as his wife when he learns of her pregnancy before their marriage.
Matthew calls us into the longing of the people of Israel for the fulfillment of promises uttered through ancient prophets; promises finally fulfilled in the person of Jesus.
The nativity story recounted in the Gospel of Luke includes those who are poor and powerless, yet not without hope. The shepherds, who are among the least in society at this time, go with joy to see for themselves the child whose birth is announced by angels. We also get a glimpse of Mary somewhat bemused by all of the attention. The Gospel says, “Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart.”
Finally, the celebration of Christmas takes a mystical turn as we reflect on the Gospel of John, which opens us to the reality that Eternal Word, having existed before all time, has been born in time as one like us – the timeless enters time, the creator has entered creation.
History, drama, hope, joy, bemusement and deep mystery are all part of the Christmas story in our liturgical celebrations.
And are not these elements a part of the sacred stories of our lives as well? Every element in the story of Jesus also belongs to us. We can choose any one of them and tell the story of our own family history, our personal dramas, hopes, joys and even experiences for which we have yet to fully understand the meaning. These elements belong to the stories of our communities and our nation. And they belong to the health ministries we serve.
This insight invites us deeper into the mystery we celebrate at Christmas, for it is less about the birth of a child in unusual circumstances, and much more about a God whose life is our life. God becomes, in a sense, the leaven in the dough of our lives, changing, or perhaps more accurately, revealing, the nature of who we are as God’s people.
We cannot ignore the implications of this for those who serve in the health care ministry. The “why” of what we do each day is intimately connected to this understanding. And it is less important that those we serve understand it and all the more important that we who serve do.
As we celebrate this great mystery of Christmas, what must we do to invite others into this insight so that their stories, like the story of our God, become one with ours?
Copyright 2017 Catholic Health Association of the United States.