December 16-22, 2018

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

December 16-22, 2018

Sister Rosemarie Goins,  CSSF Director

Many wondered if John the Baptist was the Christ, because he preached repentance andst-john-the-baptist-icon.jpg justice.  John, a humble man, quickly disabuses his audience of this notion.  He says, “…I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.  I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  …exhorting them in many ways, he preached good news to the people.” Luke 3: 10-18  You wonder, if the people remembered John’s prophesy, when Jesus came on the scene.  He certainly tried to direct them to follow Jesus, but often people are slow to get the message.

Thus, during Advent season, we are directed to heed John’s voice. “Repent and make straight the way of the Lord.” Mark 1:3  We have another week and a few days to set our lives straight for the celebration of a most unusual birth.  This opportunity is available to us each day.  We can choose to right our relationships and bring good news into other’s lives, or we can remain grumpy, self-centered people.  Whatever our faith-belief, there is a Supreme Being who is greater than ourselves and deserves our honor and recognition. We, as Christians, see this Being in the gift of a small child who is the mighty savior, the Son of God.  What a mystery – so complex, yet so simple.

Only God could have thought up the idea of coming himself as one of us to show us what it means to be a human person – a human according to his image of love, compassion, forgiveness and salvation.  We are each invited again to be born in this image at Christmas time. We can make God known and present in this world through our actions.

Onativityther revelations come to light in the birth of this unusual child.  Though the Jews had waited over four thousand years for the birth of the Christ, their overall image was that of an earthly ruler who would free them from their oppressors, in this case the Romans, a strong military leader and a legitimate king on the throne which Herod usurped.  Jesus was to be fulfill none of these roles.  To be a king, for sure, but not of this world.  The events around his birth pointed to a savior who was for all peoples – the foreigners in form of Magi from the East, the poor, outcast Jewish shepherds, the ordinary neighbors of the area, the location in the humble city of David (Was not Jesus of this house and therefore a descendent of royalty?) the absence of the wealthy Herod and his court, the absence of the Jewish leaders of the people and the absence of the Roman military. Even the heavens were present both in the form of an earthly star and a celestial choir of angels. Animals were present and even the straw from the fields and a handmade crib. At his birth he lay in a wooden crib; at his death he lay on a wooden cross. Oh, blessed tree of life

As we ponder this event, perhaps other revelations will come to mind, such as the meaning of the gifts of the Magi – gold, frankincense and myrrh.

May your celebrations during this winter season be ones of joy, peace and love.  May you and yours be blessed with good health and happiness.  May God bless each of you with what you most need.  Merry Christmas.

See you in the New Year.  Happy, happy New Year, blessed by God.

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK December 9-15, 2018

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF Director

St. Paul in Philippians 1: 8-11 gives us a beautiful blessing and prayer during this second week of Advent:

…this is my prayer for you; that your love may increase ever more and more

in knowledge and every kind of perception,

to discern what is of value,

so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ

for the glory and praise of God

 

John the Baptist appears on the scene during this season, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He further fulfills Isaiah, the prophet’s words. Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths…and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Luke 3: 1-6  In these words we see the path to St. Paul’s prayer.  As we cleanse ourselves of our sins, we become more open to receive the graces of God. We want that road to be cleared of all obstacles that may clutter the way to our hearts.  Sometimes those obstacles may be small, but you can trip over a small stone, as well as, a boulder.

The most wonderful feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe appropriately occurs during this season. She is the Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn.  This is the most popular title of Mary and her basilica in Mexico City is the most visited Catholic Church in the world along with the Vatican.

Some facts by Christina Mead from lifeteen.com:

It is believed that the name ‘Guadalupe’ came about because of the translation from Nahuatl to Spanish, of the words used by the Virgin during the apparition. It is believed that Our Lady used the Aztec Nahuatl word of “coatlaxopeuh” which is pronounced “quatlasupe” and sounds remarkably like the Spanish word Guadalupe. Coa meaning serpent, tla being the noun ending which can be interpreted as “the”, while xopeuh means to crush or stamp out. So Our Lady must have called herself the one “who crushes the serpent.”

At the time, the Aztecs offered annually at least 20,000 men, women and children in human sacrifice to their gods. In 1487, just in a single 4 day long ceremony for the dedication of a new temple in Tenochtitlan, some 80,000 captives were killed in human sacrifice. But following the Apparitions of our Blessed Mother and the miracle of the blessed tilma in 1531, over 9 million Aztecs converted to Christianity in little over a decade.

 

Just reading about the tilma itself on which Mary’s image hovers, many interesting facts are available on the internet.  One new fact that I learned was that the investigations concluded Mary appeared in her Resurrected body. She arranged the roses in Juan Diego’s tilma with her own hands. It certainly is food for thought.

Burn some candles on Thursday for the remembrance of St. Lucy, Patroness of the Blind. Her eyes were plucked out because she would not deny Jesus.

May Jesus give you peace and joy,

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

December 2-8, 201

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

December 2-8, 2018

 

As we enter this season of Advent, we call to mind Jesus’ mother, Mary.  Here is a fourteen year old girl awaiting the birth of a child of unusual origins.  She did not understand the message of the Angel Gabriel and it was frightful indeed.  He said that she was highly favored by God and was blessed among women. What did that mean?  Furthermore, “the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, hence, the offspring shall be called the Son of God.” This was so astounding. It was enough to knock anyone sideways. She must have blinked a few times and took deep breathes. In the midst of all these earth shaking revelations, she said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord.  Be it done to me as you say.”  Luke 1: 26-35  What a courageous woman who broke ground for all the women of the world. She stands as a woman of great dignity, who calls forth the rightful place of women in this world – the joint carriers with men of peace and salvation.  Women are to be held with the highest respect and honor because they are also the “handmaids of the Lord.”

During this Advent we might ask ourselves, if we accept the will of God, even when the situation seems unimaginable and unacceptable.  Many times we are confronted with painful choices, but do we seek the will of God or the will of man? Do we pray for guidance and are we submissive, when the answer is not to our liking.  God does say, “No,” to some of our requests. Scripture says today, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy…” Luke 21: 34-36  We know neither the hour of our death, nor that of the end of the world.  Advent provides time for us to reflect upon our life and relationship with God and others.

This first week of Advent ends with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the United States.  This is a title of Mary that is confusing and a mystery.  Anna and Joachim, the parents of Mary, were truly blessed to have such a wonderful child.  Mary was conceived by Anna immaculate.  How can this be?  How did the Church arrive at this article of faith?  Well, it stands to reason, if Mary was to be the mother of the Son of God, then in no way could the devil have any control over Jesus’ mother. Therefore, she was to be immaculate, as the cradle of the Son of God. We often see statues of Mary crushing the head of the serpent, because her immaculate conception gave her this power.

Mary can help us to defeat evil, if we trust her and ask for help.  I think to myself, now would be a good time for Mary to appear again, since it seems at times evil has an upper hand.  However, we are to be those messengers of the Gospel, revealing the presence of God in the world.

December 6 is “Little Christmas,” the feast of St. Nicholas. Nicholas was a bishop in what is now present day Turkey in the fourth century of Christianity.  He was a loving and caring man, who was very charitable.  He would give out small gifts to children and aided the poor with his own inheritance.  Because of his generosity and miracles, he has been remembered down through history at Christmas time by many cultures. The Dutch brought the custom to United States in the 1700’s. They called him “Sint Nikolas or Sinterklaas.”  Thus, we see the translation became “Santa Claus.”  This is the day to share a small gift with loved ones.  Even an extra hug or smile will do.

My the Light of the World, Jesus, bless you with joy, peace and love,

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK November 11-17, 2018

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF, Director

November 11-17, 2018

aaeaaqaaaaaaaafoaaaajdlmytawyzqzlwi4nwmtndk3ms04ogvllti3yzywotm4ndvhmwJesus makes an interesting observation in Sunday’s reading from Mark 12: 41-44.  He sees many rich people donating to the temple’s treasury from their surplus of which they are proud.  He is not impressed by this giving.  We, too, see this kind of giving.  A very wealthy employer or corporation gives a pittance of a raise in salary to its employees and the news bureau makes a big proclamation of this “generosity.” Perhaps we ourselves put in that small amount at Sunday services for all the needs of the parish and feel proud of ourselves for helping out. Was it from our surplus or our poverty?

We see so many first responders giving of their “surplus,” as well as, their poverty – hours on the fire line when their own home has burned down, strangers on the road risking their lives to pull a person from a burning car, a police officer rushing in to save people from a shooter and losing his own life, a caregiver of a parent with alzheimers, a parent sitting up at night with a sick child and the list is boundless. Many people go beyond what is expected and do the extraordinary.  We can raise our flag of thanksgiving for all incidences of courage and humanity.  Love is not dead; it is often unseen, surprising and unsung. Just as the widow in today’s Gospel story was hailed as a giving person by Jesus, all the other like actions will be blessed by Jesus and praised for all eternity.

Italian born St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first United States citizen to be canonized, founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.  Her main ministry was service to the immigrants and she is their special patron. We can ask her to protect the many immigrants heading our way from the south.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary is a woman, though a queen, who cared for the poor at a risk to her own life.  When the greedy royal family confronted her and accused her of giving away the goods of the palace, they found only roses in her shawl. When her husband died, she and her children were thrown out of the palace by the family.  This Franciscan woman gave not only from her surplus, but her poverty, too.

The opportunity to thank veterans for all that they have sacrificed in defense of our country, as well as, so many other countries throughout the world is NOW.  Many of us probably have members of our families who are veterans or have died because of war.  My own father died of injuries, suffered during combat in World War II. The grieving extents around the globe and the need for peace is the cry of millions.  The mental, emotional and physical anguish veterans suffer is beyond our imagination.  They need our care and compassion upon their return to civilian life.  When I drive past the cemetery on my way from school, I am saddened by the many crosses of our young men and women lost in war.  It is incomprehensible as to the pain of the parents and families of these soldiers. We have much for which to pray and to console.

May God have mercy on our veterans and their families,

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK November 4-10, 2018

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF  Director

November is a special month of thanksgiving.  Though we should be thankful people all year long, it is good to set aside a time to be more thankful and aware of the great gifts with which we have been blessed.

Perhaps, a litany can be said during this month of all these gifts, “For life. Thanks be to God. For parents. Thanks be to God. For good friends.  Thanks be to God. For flowers. Thanks… For the five senses. Thanks… For a loving husband or wife.  Thanks… For the delight of children.  Thanks…” It’s a good family practice and can be fun, too. You know.  Let’s be thankful for the pet frog…

William A. Ward has given us a very insightful quote about thanks, “God gave you 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say, ‘thank you’?” That’s certainly food for thought.

he readings for this Sunday strongly emphasize obedience to God’s laws, as we hear from Moses in Deuteronomy 6: 2-6. However, the major commandment he enjoins upon the people is beautifully stated.

“…you shall love the Lord, your God,

with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.”

When Jesus is asked by a scribe which is the first commandment in Mark 12: 28-34, he quotes Moses and adds the second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Later, Jesus will change the second law with these words from John 15: 12 “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Sometimes we don’t love ourselves very much, so Jesus’ standard is clearer but, also, very challenging.

If you have ever been to Rome, you may have visited St. John Lateran Basilica outside the walls of Rome.

It is named the Most Holy Savior and honors Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist St. John and is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, the ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. In 193 A.D. it was a fort for the Imperial guards of the Roman emperor, which was demolished and them the palace of the Laterani family was built. They served as consuls to several emperors, but lost their property under Emperor Nero. Sometime before 313 A.D. the buildings and property were given to the Church by Emperor Constantine. The great hall or basilica was expanded and decorated, becoming the “golden church,” a magnificent edifice.  The Vandals stripped it of its treasures and though it has been restored a number of times, it has never regained the splendor of the 4th century. Though, seeing it today, it still looks amazing. The popes resided there until 1309, when the pope moved his residence to France. During this time deterioration and several fires reduced the edifice and the palace to shambles. When the pope finally returns to Rome, the Lateran is unfit for a residence. Eventually, the present residence was erected next to St. Peter’s.  However, the Lateran Basilica is still consider the “mother church of the world.” newadvent.org

The day to honor St. Leo the Great is Saturday.  His feast comes close to St. John Lateran, because in 460 A.D. he is the Pope who restored the basilica after the Vandals’ destroyed it.  Pope Leo’s main aim was to maintain unity in the church.  He fought many heresies and brought about the primacy of the papacy. He was the Pope who met Attila the Hun at the games of Rome and negotiated his promise to leave Rome unharmed and even Italy. Leo also convinced the Vandals not to destroy or harm the people of a certain area of Italy.  He must have had amazing diplomatic skills and moral integrity.  No wonder he is called “the Great.”

“If the only prayer you said your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK October 28-November 3, 2018

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
Sister Rosemarie Goins, Directoraaeaaqaaaaaaaafoaaaajdlmytawyzqzlwi4nwmtndk3ms04ogvllti3yzywotm4ndvhmw

“Master, I want to see,” cries Bartemaeus in today’s Gospel from Mark 10: 46-52.  Though he was asking for physical healing, Jesus recognized his spiritual condition of faith and praised him for this

bartimaeus

faith. This is a beautiful prayer that can be said daily for spiritual growth and the healing of the blindness of prejudice, selfishness, control issues and racism.  Oftentimes the blindness of fear prevents the recognition of what needs to be done to bravely face the issues that can paralyze Gospel values.  Perhaps the frequent recitation of this prayer, “Master, I want to see,” can energize courageous actions and bring the world closer to peace.

Another point in this Gospel is the statement, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”  Would that spiritual blindness would not prevent the quick response to this calling.  Each day presents an opportunity to respond to the call of Jesus to make a difference in the world.  Listening to those who “rebuke us and tell us to be silent” can only lead to more abuse and suffering in the world.  In the wake of these pressures, like Bartemaeus, we must “keep calling out all the more.”

 

 

Halloween, All Hallow Eve, originated with the Celtic festival, SamHain, thousands of years ago, where great bon fires were built and costumes were donned to ward off evil spirits and ghosts. November 1 was considered the beginning of a new year.  The old year was dying with the entrance into dark and wintry months.  The people needed assurances of protection because death seemed to be more rampant in

 

winter and it was believed that the dead walked the earth on Halloween.  When the Romans conquered the Celts in 43 A.D., they combined SamHain with their harvest festivals.  Through the centuries it has taken many forms until we have today’s activities of tricks and treats.

 

This week the Feast of All the Saints is celebrated on Thursday, November 1.  It is a special day for all of us to remember the saint for whom we were named.  This was a person who strove to live Gospel values. Though they may have failed many times, they kept up the struggle, answered Jesus’ call and met the challenge head on.  Their courageous lives give us an example to follow.  We do not worship the saints, as some mistakenly think, but are encouraged by those who have gone before us in the living of the Gospel. We see in them the possibility for ourselves to rise above fear and plow forward in the shaping of a better and kinder world.  The youth of today

 

need good role models who appeal to their better nature, not to frivolity, licentiousness, self-absorption and materialism.

 

Though the Catholic Church calls November 2 the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed or All Souls Day, the Mexican culture calls it Dia de Muertos.  It originated with the Aztec people centuries ago. Though it began with the indigenous people, Mexico eventually declared it a national holiday and the Christian Church accepted it as part of its celebration of remembering the dead.  On this day family and friends who have died are remembered with flowers on their graves, special foods, pictures and festivities.

You may just find a skull on your doorstep or table. This type of celebration appears in many cultures, such as, the Spanish/Latino customs in Central and South America, Spain and other parts of the world.

 

 

Saturday is the Feast of St. Martin de Porres, a Dominican Brother of Lima, Peru.  Because he was of mixed racial blood, an African woman and a Spanish soldier, Martin suffered much abuse.  However, his loving and cheerful nature won him many friends, even, as the legend goes, the mice who he promised to feed, if they left the bins of grain alone for the monastery.  He was also a healer and took care of the members of his community, as well as, many sick people who came to the monastery for help.

May your week be filled with many celebrations and blessings from God.

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK October 21-27, 2018

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FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF
Director

In Sunday’s Gospel from Mark 10: 35-45 we hear Jesus’ teaching about what our relationship to each other should be.  This teaching occurred after James and John requested that Jesus give them the seats next to him one at his right and the other at his left when he enters his kingdom. The other apostles grumbled because they wanted the seats for themselves.  We can see Jesus shaking his head in sadness, as he prepares to straighten them out about his kingdom.

Jesus says that we should not try to control each other and use power to oppress others.  Instead, we should be each other’s servant.  Our call is to serve and to give life to all.  This is what greatness consists of to accept, respect and protect each other.

Another lesson we can learn from this Gospel story is how we relate to God.  If we examine ourselves closely, we may find ourselves trying to control God or telling him what to do.  Give me this, give me that or do what I want.  We question his love for us, when we don’t get what we want or expect.  This sounds like the behavior of a child, but often our relationship with God has not grown much beyond that of a child.  It takes a deeper development of our spiritual life to progress to the point of trust and acceptance of God’s will.  He knows best as to what we need.  It is difficult to let go of our wants, but practicing servanthood will lead us to a better place in our relationship with God and each other.

This week on Monday we can call to mind St. Pope John Paul II. He was a man who suffered under Communist Rule in Poland.  He saw family members and friends die during this oppression, yet he moved forward and strove to be a better person, who would bring life, not revenge to his people and eventually the whole world.

October 22 is “Make a Difference Day.”  What would be one thing we would select to make a difference?

Will it be something material? A gift given perhaps to a friend, a parent or shut in or a poor person?  Will it be a smile to a passerby? Will it be an elimination of a judgment of another person?  Will it be a kind thought or word toward another?  Should we relinquish trying to control others to do what we want?  Will we listen more kindly to those who have opposing opinions? Will we forgive and apologize to those with whom we have bitterly argued?  The list becomes more and more difficult.  If we really want to make a difference, then we must learn to serve all, as Jesus instructs.   That’s what it means to be a Christian and to make a difference.

May your week be full of challenges to create a world of peace, joy and love.